Minneapolis City Council votes against pausing homeless encampment removals, approves $1.2M for nonprofit

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The Minneapolis City Council voted against enacting a temporary pause of clearing homeless encampments during a meeting on Thursday.

The proposal came after protesters set up an encampment outside of Minneapolis City Hall for days. It was turned down by a vote of 5-8. 

The pause would have started immediately and stayed in place until April 30, 2023. It was also meant to give city councilors time to explore how much the city was spending on clearing encampments. 

RELATED: Activists camp outside Minneapolis City Hall to protest destruction of homeless encampments

During the same meeting, the council announced $1.2 million in funds for Avivo Village, the same long-term housing facility that 11 people were relocated to after the camp in front of City Hall was cleared. 

City officials say the funds came from a CARES Act Community Development Block Grant as part of a larger strategy through the city and Hennepin County to help the homeless population. 

As previously reported in September, $3.5 million was approved to help temporarily house families with the goal of helping them into permanent housing.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to one man who said many of his belongings were lost when an encampment was cleared by Minneapolis city workers. 

“It was actually traumatizing because you can’t recover none of that,” said Dave, who spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Joe Mazan underneath an I-94 exit ramp. “Photos, cellphones, a lot of personal information, IDs […] they came by and just bulldozed everything. We were all pissed off because of what they did. They could have gave us a little more time and told us a couple days ahead of time.”

Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley spoke about the practice during Thursday’s meeting. 

“We keep relying on violently displacing our unhoused residents and still provide no thoughtful plan,” Wonsley said. 

“This sort of conduct is unacceptable,” Aisha Chughtai, Minneapolis’ Ward 10’s council member, said.

Chughtai was the council member that brought the proposal to pause the evictions forward.

“Our present method of clearing encampments sets everyone backwards,” Chughtai added. “The people experiencing homelessness lose the possession they have and are further traumatized.”

Other council members, such as Jamal Osman and Latrisha Vetaw, spoke on the decision to not pause homeless encampment removals. 

“There are endangers where they are staying,” Osman said. “It’s not safe, we have deaths that are taking place in the encampments. We have shootings.”

“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,” Vetaw said. 

RELATED: Hennepin County to expand affordable housing stock with purchase of Aqua City Motel 

After the vote, Avivo shared the following statement: “We appreciate city council members’ acknowledgment of the complications and trauma created by the manner and tactics currently used to close encampments.”

Following the closures of several homeless encampments in Minneapolis, a group of people and organizations filed an ongoing lawsuit against the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board alleging the constitutional rights of those living in the encampments were violated when their belongings were thrown away.

Dave said he would like the city to do more for the homeless and help them find housing.

“There’s a lot of empty buildings around here where they can temporary house people for awhile,” Dave said. 

With winter quickly approaching, Dave hopes the city can help those who live on the streets.