Concerns grow over homeless encampment near Lucy Laney Elementary School

Tucked into the northeast corner of Lowry and Penn in Minneapolis, on a small vacant lot largely hidden from view, an encampment of about eight tents has sprung up in the past few weeks. Neighbors say the problems have grown with it.

"Drugs, people just lingering around, loud music at night, cars constantly blocking the alley, going up and down," neighbor Korthes Strickling said. "It’s got a lot of people’s attention, especially on my block."

It’s right behind homes and a block from both a public park and Lucy Laney Elementary School.

"Being that my kids go to Laney, I don’t want them asking questions, looking in there, what are they doing and how’s this going on?" Strickling said.

The Cleveland Neighborhood Association’s Facebook group has also shared a petition asking the city to deal with it, specifically asking Council Member Phillipe Cunningham.

"Yes, well as somebody who lives in the area, it’s something I noticed immediately," Cunningham said.

Cunningham says he’s heard plenty from neighbors about the problems, and while it’s nowhere near the size of other homeless encampments in other parts of Minneapolis, it shares the delicate balance -- dealing with the root causes of homelessness, such as addiction, while facing some very real issues of public safety.

"It’s very consistent with what we’re seeing in encampments across the city, which is not only do we have homelessness issues happening here, we also have drug use, sex trafficking, drug dealing," Cunningham said. "Those kinds of issues that can kind of get hidden by the homeless encampment itself."

Cunningham says he’s working with police, public works, county agencies, and community organizations to respond.

Neighbors planned a community meeting this weekend.

"We’ve seen encampments, especially over south where they’ve got the big fires and stuff like that," Strickling said. "We don’t want that."