MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Hennepin County leaders are moving quickly to help people get off the streets at a growing homeless encampment in Minneapolis.
Officials secured more than $200,000 Tuesday to help 12 people get shelter and food right away. Fox 9 took a tour of the renovated apartment complex that should be ready in a few weeks.
Crews are working to turn an old apartment unit near Franklin and Interstate 35W into temporary housing for 12 people currently battling cold and rainy conditions at an expanding Minneapolis homeless camp.
“The building has old world charm—you look at the old wood work and the floors that turned out beautiful—each unit has a bathroom and a kitchen,” said Mike Goze of the American Indian Community Development Corporation.
He purchased the building on Oct. 1 and with the help of state funds, it should be available soon. The complex used to be the former Kateri Residence, a group home for Native American women and children.
“It will be a hard task to get everybody housed this winter...You’ll find that people will start doubling up with other relatives as the weather becomes unmanageable,” said Goze.
“We’re trying to chip away at this problem a group at a time, a family at a time, and we’re making progress,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.
McLaughlin says there has been a collaborative effort with the city to transition these families off the street. Last week, a third person died at the homeless camp from a suspected overdose.
He says it's a monumental task to clear people out of the camp by winter. Work is in progress to create a navigation center where people can at least get warm.
“Ultimately, people need to have a roof over their head,” said McLaughlin. “We’re going to create this navigation center for those we were not able to provide a permanent placement for. We’re not going to be able to do that before the snow flies.”
While the funding is a small victory, leaders and activists who spoke with Fox 9 are not confident everyone will want to leave the camp even when the cold weather hits. So far police, the mayor and the City Council have let them stay there without any issue.