The Home Free Shelter has been providing safe space for women and children escaping violence at home for 40 years. This October, we wanted to share an update on how the shelter has adapted due to COVID-19 to continue serving survivors and keep everyone safe and healthy.
Since March, the shelter has been running at 70-80% capacity. Previously residents would share rooms providing more space for more residents but in an effort to prevent contact due to COVID-19, residents are in private rooms.
The shelter generally has a fairly high turnover — women and children tend to spend an average of 15-20 days in the shelter before finding housing, often with help from our advocates.
While the number of calls related to domestic violence dropped in March, we are now experiencing more calls and many women are experiencing increased severity of abuse.
Fewer women are able to stay with friends during the pandemic and affordable housing is currently difficult to find so many residents are staying in the shelter for much longer. This means turning survivors away from the shelter due to capacity issues and directing them to other shelters.
Many shelters across the Twin Cities are facing capacity issues as they weigh the problem of keeping residents safe and healthy and providing services to as many survivors as they can.
Because residents have been staying for longer periods of time, advocates and other Home Free staff have had the chance to grow close to the women and children staying in the shelter — developing deeper relationships.
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought us, Missions Inc.’s Home Free’s doors are open, as they have been for 40 years.