Minneapolis Park Board passes resolution to limit amount of tents, parks with encampments

Hundreds of tents are part of two encampments at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously to pass a resolution to reduce the size of encampments at all parks, including Powderhorn Park, which has the largest encampment population.

The Park Board says there are encampments in 38 Minneapolis parks including two at Powderhorn, where there are at least 560 tents and 282 people living there. Since the homeless encampments were allowed, there have been reported sexual assaults and also a shooting.

Now under the new resolution, encampments will be limited to 20 parks and the number of tents in those encampments will be limited to 25. Groups or nonprofits will have to apply for a temporary permit to allow an encampment.

During the virtual meeting Wednesday night, board members expressed concerns for safety even with the new resolution in place.

"I'm skeptical this will help with security or some of the other problems but inaction is not an option any longer,” said Park Board Commissioner Stephanie Musich. “We must take action in a situation that is spiraling out of control."

Under the new resolution, park staff would also provide portable toilets, handwashing stations and trash containers to those encampments if the people or groups running them get a newly created permit, which are expected to be available Thursday.

While neighbors welcomed the encampments, some now feel they are too big and unsafe for both the people living in the park and those who live nearby.

“The volunteers who are here are good-hearted people who are not social workers for the most part and I think it’s more than volunteers can handle in one place,” said Kate Zwicky, a neighbor. “It would be safer if it were smaller groups.”

Some living in the park wonder where they will go with the new limitations in place.

"I think if they look at how can we make it safe or at least more comfortable because they are not transitioning people into housing, they are transitioning them to other parks and all you are doing is separating homeless into more places," said Rodney Williams, who lives in the encampment.