The homeless and anyone else looking for a place to cool down during the relentless heat wave have numerous options across Minneapolis and Hennepin County.
Officials reiterated that message Thursday at a news conference as a stubborn stretch of temperatures in the 90s continues in the forecast this weekend and into next week. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for noon to 8 p.m. Friday.
"We need everyone to be looking out for their neighbor," said Mayor Jacob Frey. "We need everybody to be looking out for those that are most vulnerable in our city and make sure that they have the right information."
Cooling centers in the county can be found online at hennepin.us/cool. Locations include the Salvation Army, public libraries, community centers, wading pools and beaches. The Hennepin County Government Center is also a cooling center and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. In Ramsey County, relief from the heat can be found at bit.ly/3hY4CpD.
Frey encouraged those experiencing unsheltered homelessness to call Adult Shelter Connect (612-248-2350) and seek refuge from the heat in one of the city's 24-hour overnight shelters. Since this time last year, the city has added 200 beds in its homeless shelter network, and there's a 36-bed facility under construction, said Andrea Brennan, director of community planning and economic development for Minneapolis. The Shelter Connect program hasn't had to turn away anyone because of overcrowding since April 2021, Frey said.
Brennan said city outreach teams will visit homeless encampments to inform occupants of the cooling centers and overnight shelters.
Encampment occupants might hesitate to take advantage of the cooling centers and shelters for several reasons, including the fear someone might take their belongings. But Frey offered reassurance that the shelters have designated storage spaces to protect against theft. He also emphasized that these shelter spaces, such as the tiny home community at Avivo Village (avivomn.org/avivovillage), were constructed with input and feedback from the homeless.
Hennepin County Medical Center's emergency department has seen about 30 patients in the past two to three weeks with heat-related complaints, a spokesman said. Symptoms of heat-related illness include dizziness, dehydration, lethargy, weakness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Staff writer Kelly Smith contributed to this report.