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As temperatures drop, Rochester skyways fill up

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Temperatures are dropping and temperatures are especially cold temperatures next week. For those without shelter, it can be dangerous; which is why most sleep in the skyways.

The cold temps prompt an influx of people staying overnight in the downtown Rochester skyways and Wednesday night was no exception.

Rhonda and Levoy Ballard.
Rhonda and Levoy Ballard say they’ve spent nearly three years sleeping in the Rochester city skyways.

KTTC crews met Rhonda and Levoy Ballard who say they’ve been homeless for nearly three years – Levoy struggling with his health. On any given winter night – Rhonda guesses there’s about 20 or so people in her section of the skyway. Because of increased reports of violence in the skyway system, the city council is closing it overnight once a warming shelter near government center opens in December.

“I’d rather risk going to jail instead of freezing outside,” Levoy said. “You do have people here that are doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. It’s bad. They make it bad for us. You have to have compassion. We down and out. We just got blessed, we just got blessed.”

Both Rhonda and Levoy say some of the right steps have been taken to end homelessness in Rochester – but there’s still more to be done.

“Basically they need something where people can sit all day. You know, the Warming Center is 8 [a.m.] to 8 [p.m.]. You know, it’s winter time, okay. They kicked people out of Dorothy Day’s one winter and there was a blizzard,” Rhonda said.

“The best thing they could of did is the Warming House,” Levoy added. “We freeze in this thing right here.”

The good news for the couple is Thursday night is their last in the skyway – the couple is moving into an apartment Friday. They were able to secure with the help with Zumbro Valley Health Center. 

Now, that they have their own place to live – the pair says they plan to pay their blessings forward.

Beret Leone

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