Ramsey County's only day drop-in center for homeless women and children has expanded to accommodate the growing number of families needing shelter during the recession.
Elen Bahr of the Family Place says the center's leaders decided to increase the size of the downtown St. Paul space, after having to turn away more than 300 people in March. Bahr says the economy has forced some of those families out of their homes and in search of showers and meals.
"A trend that we're seeing is foreclosure in apartment buildings," she said. "If you're living in poverty and you're living in an apartment, even if you're working and paying your bills and doing everything right, you may just not have extra money at the end of the month. And when your landlord is foreclosed on and the sheriff comes and says, 'You have to go,' you have nowhere else to go but shelter."
The center is holding a walk to raise money and awareness of the issue on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Bahr says participants will visit social services offices to get a sense of what homeless families go through.
"I think that for the community to really understand the issue of homelessness is really critical at this point in our economy. It's not getting any better, and it's going to take all of us to understand the issues so we can make the kind of systemic issues we need to make."
The remodeled shelter can now accommodate 60 people a day, up from 40 before the renovations.