Minneapolis City Council delays decision on new location for homeless encampment

The City of Minneapolis is going back to the drawing board when it comes to moving the homeless encampment near Hiawatha and Cedar avenues.

The City Council was scheduled to vote on a new proposed location Friday, but instead voted to postpone the decision to next week.

On Thursday, the Council preliminarily approved a location at 2600 Minnehaha Avenue. The city-owned site is on the line between the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods.

It also backs up to two charter schools, which led to loud opposition from parents.

“It is a big relief,” said parent and Aurora Charter School employee Ana Soria, after the vote to postpone the decision. “This is going to be basically in our school's backyard. This is where our children play. If some kids sometimes walk home, this is what they're going to be seeing every day.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey voiced concerns over delaying the decision.

“I do not support a delay. People are hurting right now at this encampment. Families are in need,” Frey said. “Yesterday alone there were three overdoses at the camp. I do not believe that delaying is the right option. However, I do agree full-heartedly, that there is no solution right now on the table that is perfect.”

Still, the City Council voted unanimously to push the vote to Wednesday, Sept. 26.

“Whether we put these FEMA-style trailers at Roof Depot, whether we put these FEMA-style trailers at 2600 Minnehaha, it is not a dignified housing option, and I believe that there are better options available,” said Ward 5 Council Member Jeremiah Ellison.

“I get that we're rushed, but one of the challenges that we face is fastest is not always best,” said Ward 4 Council Member Phillipe Cunningham.

The city wants the new location to house a Navigation Center for the homeless. It would be a temporary solution that offers shelter and services.

Once they decide on a location, it will take a month or two to get everyone moved in.

The delay now leaves city staff just a few days to come up with a new location.

“This is an emergency situation, and so we have been working really hard to come up with as much information as we can as quickly as we can to present to the City Council,” said David Frank, Director of Community Planning and Economic Development for the City of Minneapolis.

On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton was seen at Minneapolis City Hall meeting with Mayor Frey on the issue.

The City aims to have a new location for the homeless ready for move-in by the end of October.