Ramsey County delays homeless shelter lease to address security concerns

The Ramsey County Board expressed strong support Tuesday morning for a plan to lease Bethesda Hospital and turn it into a homeless shelter, but delayed approval for a week to better address neighbors’ security concerns.

Commissioners spoke about the urgent need for more shelter space with winter fast approaching. Nearly 400 people recently have been sleeping outside in St. Paul, which is said to be a record.

The hospital building, just north of the State Capitol in the Frogtown neighborhood, would provide a 24-hour shelter and services for 100 homeless people. It would be a low-barrier shelter, meaning it would house people who have been unsuccessful in other shelter settings and are often battling addictions.

Neighbors have said they worry about increasing crime and drug activity, and also that a private park on the hospital grounds could be overrun by the homeless.

Commissioners vowed to address security concerns at Tuesday’s

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