Minneapolis City Council rejects moratorium on homeless encampment removals

The Minneapolis City Council rejected a moratorium proposed on Thursday to pause all home encampment evictions for six months.

The measure proposed by Councilmember Aisha Chughtai asked the city to stop its clearing of encampments in the city until April 30, 2023.

The proposal followed several encampment sweeps in recent weeks, including the large Near North encampment removed on October 6 -- once again putting the camps and the people in the center of controversy.

"Making it impossible for our residents to gather their belongings with no advance notice, destroying people’s belongings including essential documentation, medication and other important items creates further displacement and harm," said Councilmember Chughtai.

"It really isn’t a matter of whether you want or don’t want encampments. It’s a matter of ‘are we affecting the problem or are we not,’" added Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison.

The proposed moratorium failed on an eight-to-five vote on Thursday.

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"Unhoused residents deserve respect and dignity, and they should be protected and we should also protect our residents who live in the area that are dealing with having encampments next to their house," said Councilmember Jamal Osman.

All councilmembers seemed to agree there needs to be more solutions for residents who are homeless, but Councilmember Vetaw said the way the proposal rolled out Thursday was not the way to go about it.

"This is an opportunity for us to get it right," said Councilmember LaTrisha Vetaw. "This is not the time to perform to play up to a group of people who come to threaten you and make you feel bad like it’s never going to happen, it’s never going to happen if we don’t do it right."

Another issue discussed at a meeting was the authority the council had to enforce a moratorium. Under the new city government structure, the council can’t tell the "executive branch" what to do. Removing the encampments comes at the direction of the mayor.

Councilmembers did approve a measure giving the mayor six months to show the cost of the sweeps.