Racing the cold: Minneapolis moves fast on plan for homeless encampment

The city of Minneapolis and tribal leaders are fast tracking plans for temporary housing, as they look to relocate people currently living in a homeless encampment along Hiawatha Avenue.

On Tuesday, the city’s Ways and Means Committee approved a $1.5 million budget for the project, allowing them to move forward with last minute plans.

“What we’re trying to do is just clear space to get temporary structures up that will keep people warm,” said City Council Member Steve Fletcher. “It’s going to be trailer-style buildings, something like FEMA trailers or mobile housing. We’re looking at a bunch of different options.”

Located just east of the encampment, the property on Cedar Avenue South is owned by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. The band bought the land in 2016 with plans to build low income housing.

Two weeks ago, tribal leaders offered the land as a temporary solution. Now, the city council is fast tracking the approval process.

“We have to take a leap of faith and say we’re going to authorize the money even though we don’t have all the details,” said Fletcher. “So we can solve some of these problems that are still unsolved.”

Officials are rushing to get the housing open by the first week in December. It will only remain in place for six months, as the band breaks ground on the permanent housing project this June.

The location would include social services to help individuals find jobs and permanent housing.

The city council will vote on approval at this Friday’s council meeting.