Duluth councilors propose long-term warming, hygiene center for homeless

COVID-19 relief funds could be used to set up the new facility.

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Lisa Ronnquist stands outside City Hall during a demonstration Monday, Oct. 26, to call for action to protect people experiencing homelessness in Duluth. (Tyler Schank /

A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could lay the groundwork for a long-term facility designed to assist people experiencing homelessness.

Councilors Roz Randorf and Renee Van Nett introduced a resolution requesting that city administration use about $400,000 of the $1.3 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds Duluth has received to help establish a warming and hygiene center. Randorf suggested that initial investment could leverage additional state and federal support in the future to cover ongoing staffing and maintenance expenses.

"Our staff has been working hard on this, and they're ready to make it a reality," she said, noting that city personnel have done considerable advance legwork for the project.

Van Nett thanked Randorf for her work on the issue and stressed the importance of moving ahead swiftly.

"We're going to have blizzards soon, and this is vital for us," she said.


Duluth City Councilor Renee Van Nett (2020 file /News Tribune)

Up to now, the city has scrambled each winter to locate available space and set up a warming center for homeless people, but Randorf said the proposed facility would provide greater stability, as well as round-the-clock access to hygiene amenities.

Although the city has not yet settled on a location for the center, Randorf said one likely host candidate is the Lincoln Park Community Center at 2014 W. Third St. She advised that any building that is available and feasible would be considered.

Noah Schuchman, chief administrative officer for the city of Duluth, said city administration supports the proposed resolution.

This winter, the warming center will remain in the Rainbow Room at Tri-Towers, 222 N. Second Ave. E., but Randorf said a new facility should be ready by next year.

"It will be months, but I really believe it will be done right. It will be a multi-year solution, and it will be something where we can say: 'Wow. We made a difference here," she said.


Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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