Recap of services provided to St. Louis County residents experiencing homelessness

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Public Health & Human Services Dept. • 320 West Second Street, Suite 605 • Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 726-2096 •

Linnea Mirsch




April 5, 2021


Courtney Cochran, St. Louis County CoC Coordinator                                          

(218) 576-7226 or                 


Joel Kilgour, CHUM Warming Center Manager

(218) 340-4356 or


St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services recaps winter season serving people experiencing homelessness

March 31 marked the seasonal closing of the Duluth Warming Center located this year at the Rainbow center with additional space at CHUM. The Duluth Warming Center was managed by CHUM in close partnership with Duluth HRA and the Loaves & Fishes Community, with additional support from the City of Duluth, St. Louis County, Duluth Transit Authority and the Federal CARES Act. It could be re-activated as needed this month based on cold weather and snow conditions that could be dangerous for those living outside across St. Louis County.


A total of 566 individuals accessed emergency overnight shelter this winter at the Duluth Warming Center and Chum Drop-in Center. The usage level was much higher than anticipated when the doors opened in November. Meanwhile, in northern St. Louis County, AEOA provided warming center services through emergency hotel vouchers. AEOA saw 82 individuals use warming center beds this winter. St. Louis County saw an 18 percent increase in homelessness in 2020 compared to 2019, with most of that growth in unsheltered homelessness. Based on usage of the emergency warming shelters the last few months, it is anticipate the increase in homelessness will be even higher once 2021 data is gathered.


The Duluth Warming Center developed partnerships with Lake Superior Community Health Center and St. Louis County for vaccination clinics and healthcare access this year, connecting community members experiencing homelessness with key services. This led to 32 people getting fully vaccinated and 22 additional people with first vaccination at the Rainbow Center location.


“The HRA was very happy to have the Rainbow Center to utilize this past winter for the warming center," said Jill Keppers, Executive Director of Duluth HRA, "The space worked out very well for those utilizing it to be warm, sleep, and get out of the elements. We are looking forward to converting the lower level of the Lincoln Park Center to a permanent warming center location for years to come.” 


A permanent warming center will open in Fall 2021 in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Community Center. This permanent warming center location comes after years of work from housing advocates across the county and will be a collaborative effort of the Duluth HRA, CHUM, Loaves & Fishes, and St. Louis County.  This new warming center will be able to house up to 100 people at a time, and will offer showers, beds, towels and laundry facilities.


As warming centers close for the season, the people who used them may return to sleeping outside, in cars, and in places not meant for human habitation. There is an immediate need for donations of tents and sleeping bags. Donations can be dropped of at Human Development Center, CHUM, Damiano Center, Twin Ports American Indian Movement, and Loaves & Fishes in Duluth.


"Homelessness is not a choice, but giving is," said Jennifer Kuoppala, AEOA Bill’s House Shelter Manager. "Individuals from all across the Range made the choice to give. Whether it was in clothing, outdoor winter wear, household items, food, or monetary donations, the giving has been continuous. We, at AEOA, know that to end homelessness it takes the community and our community is hard at work to achieve that mission!”