Ramsey County moves forward with converting Bethesda Hospital to homeless shelter

A sign in front of a brick building.
The Ramsey County Board today unanimously agreed to move forward with an agreement that will allow the county to convert part the Bethesda Hospital complex into a 100-bed homeless shelter.
Chris Juhn for MPR News file

The Ramsey County Board unanimously agreed Tuesday to move forward with an agreement that will allow the county to convert part the Bethesda Hospital complex into a 100-bed homeless shelter. The county will lease the space from M Health Fairview which recently decided to close the hospital.

Before voting, commissioners acknowledged public safety concerns some have voiced about the plan. Trista MatasCastillo, a commissioner who represents an area nearby, talked about the need for housing for people living on the streets or in encampments.

"I have heard from community members as the rest of you have both positive and negative and some just suggestions and critics,” MastasCastillo said, “and so I want to acknowledge all of that and [I] appreciate all of the engagement as we make this decision."

Before the vote, county commissioners addressed security and public safety concerns about putting a shelter in the neighborhood just north of the Minnesota State Capitol.

"There is a clear and urgent need to provide places to stay, shelter for members of our community who are currently homelessness,” board Chair Toni Carter said. “This is not a sudden need. It has been on going that they have been homeless with us and it will be on going."

Ramsey County is still working on a timeline for opening the shelter, but hopes to do so this winter.

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