Local Homeless Shelters Working to Offer More Warming Center Options

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: November 14, 2019 09:16 PM

Many of us don't have to think twice about where to sleep or where to stay warm. That's a harsh reality homeless people face every day. With the weather getting colder, local organizations are prepping warming centers.


CHUM and Ruth House are working on offering more options to the homeless in the community.

"We think that there’s about 150 people at any one time who are living on the streets of Duluth,” said Lee Stuart, CHUM’s executive director.

Those who don't have a home, are struggling with the colder conditions in the Twin Ports.

City Center West was launched in the winter as a warming center option. Although it did help, it wasn't equipped to house people overnight.

"It didn't have sprinklers and so people weren't really safely allowed to sleep there. It also only had one bathroom,” said Stuart.

CHUM realized that more needed to be done. As a result, their drop in center will now be open 24/7 as an option to stay warm. They're building a vestibule in the back of the building so people enter safely and aren't exposed to dangerous people.

Companion animals will also be accepted at the warming center. People who may be under the influence can get help from staff as well.

CHUM received help from the state with $200,000 for additional overnight staff to operate their 24-hour warming center and additional outreach staff to support people experiencing chronic homelessness on the street and in the shelter.

"Usually our drop in center was just a day shelter and people slept at our regular shelter but this winter we're going to be open 24 hours for people to use the drop in center in and out,” said Stuart.

They're looking into other places people can go to as well. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church is opening as a warming center soon. A possible third site is being considered in the Lincoln Park area too.

People won't have to wait for the temperature to drop below zero for a warming center. Recently, the temperature threshold was changed to 10 degrees.

Stuart said it's important to give people a safe option to go to but that the focus should be on making more affordable housing.

"The real issue is enough housing for people. Shelters and warming centers are the safety net for a bigger system failure, which is adequate, affordable and supportive housing," said Stuart.

Stuart added that 78 percent of people experiencing homelessness are single individuals, and of those, 80 percent are men. She said more housing for single individuals is needed.

Meanwhile across the Blatnik Bridge, Ruth House has been another warming center option for some Duluthians, but the commute isn't easy for those who are homeless.

“A big barrier for the homeless in Duluth is finding a ride from Duluth to Superior in order to use our facility," said Chrissy Foster, the program coordinator for Walking Victorious, which runs Ruth House.

Walking Victorious plans to open another warming center in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on 24th Avenue West called Esther House but need volunteers to help.

“We've already secured the house. The real issue right now is finding enough volunteers, a good strong volunteer basis is absolutely needed,” said Foster.

With help from the community, those in need of a warm place during the cold months can have a safe option to go to. 

"Last year we were blown away by the numbers of people who brought clothes and food to the warming centers. That's very welcome again this year," said Stuart.

If you’re interested in helping and volunteering at Esther House, call  715-392-2833 or email

Ruth House's warming center runs from 8 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. They ask people to sign in between 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ruth House's normal business hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you’re interested in helping and volunteering at CHUM, call 218-720-6521 or email


Alejandra Palacios

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