Minneapolis city leaders consider plan to relocate homeless camp

- As the investigation continues into the death of a woman at a homeless camp in Minneapolis, a lot of questions continue to surround the health and safety of those living at the growing site. 

City leaders are looking to relocate hundreds of people to shelters that can provide them with medical and social services. 

What started with a couple of tents has grown as about 300 people have made the encampment their home. They’ve clustered for safety and access to social services - along with being next to Little Earth, where many have family. As the cold weather approaches, the concerns are growing.

“With the onset of inclement weather, what can we do to provide winterization efforts for these people as well as how can we move them from this space in a way that protects their humanity and their dignity and their safety,” said Joe Hobot, president and CEO of American Indian OIC.

Finding a location is the first step. The Roof Depot building and parking lot at 27th and Longfellow is an option, but Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says it’s not a likely choice. He won’t reveal the other options that are being looked at, but it seems some neighborhood is about to get much bigger.

“There are several options that we’re looking at for purposes of temporary shelter and yes, some of them are around or adjacent to neighborhoods,” said Mayor Frey. “But we have to remember that the homeless population are our neighbors.”

Beyond location, leaders in the American Indian community are working to come up with housing solutions.

“I know that other leadership are working with other tribal leadership and other service providers to procure winterization equipment whether it could be FEMA type trailers or winterized tents that can withstand some of the harsher climate changes that our winters can bring,” said Hobot.

Hobot says that sense of community that has developed organically is important and they will work to keep it that way.

“We do not want to just return to dispersing our relatives to the four winds, we want to keep the integrity that’s present within that camp,” said Hobot. “So wherever the next camp is, it has to be large enough to incorporate all the people that are there.”

The mayor had set a goal of Sept. 30 to have the encampment relocated and he says if they don't make that, it's not for lack of trying. The next step in the process will be to present location, timeline and funding sources on Sept. 20. The implementation plan, however, will be presented October 24, which means relocation by the end of the month appears unlikely.

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