Mankato: 60 percent of shelter guests find housing
Now that spring has sprung, The Salvation Army in Mankato, Minn. can finally take a breath, look back on winter, and smile at this wonderful accomplishment:
Nearly 50 of the 78 guests who stayed at the Mankato Salvation Army men’s shelter during the 2016/2017 cold-weather season went on to secure permanent housing.
“That’s a 60 percent success rate,” said Major Linda Fjellman (pictured above), co-leader of the Mankato Salvation Army. “We are especially proud to say that many of these guys found their permanent housing with the help of our social workers.”
The men’s shelter is open annually from Nov. 1 to March 31, seven days a week, from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Fjellman attributes the shelter’s success to policy changes and increased support, such as:
- The shelter was offered for free. In years past, guests were asked to pay $5, if they had it. “This year we told them to save their money and use it to get into their own place,” Fjellman said. To offset the loss of income, guests were asked to do chores.
- Added employment assistance. Guests received access to computers to write résumés and apply for jobs. They also received vouchers for clothing and haircuts so that they could look their best during job interviews.
- Local businesses chipped in. This includes a nearby Subway restaurant, which offered free breakfast to shelter guests every Sunday; a few guests even got jobs there. In addition, local churches and college students often brought food. “The guys always ate pretty good,” Fjellman said.
Fjellman and her husband, Major Jonathan Fjellman, took over as the new leaders of the Mankato Salvation Army last June.
Looking ahead to next year, the Fjellmans are excited to build upon the success the shelter enjoyed over the winter.
“I am proud of these guys,” Linda Fjellman said. “They are trying, and they are succeeding.”