Homeless set up encampment in downtown St. Paul fearing COVID-19 health risks in shelters

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Nearly 20,000 Minnesotans experience homelessness on any given night, according to Wilder Research's most recent statewide study.

Now, some homeless individuals say the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to set up a small tent city in downtown St. Paul.

Some say they fear going into shelters because of the health risk.  

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Catholic Charities say they're at full capacity and working with county partners to open up space to move people out of encampments.

"We are not able to shelter everybody who is seeking shelter at this time," Chris Michels, with Catholic Charities, said. "My hope is as we continue the push to get people who are medically compromised out of our congregate settings, that we will be able to continue to intake people into shelter and getting them out of the encampments."

During the pandemic, Catholic Charities is also working on taking people from homeless encampments and putting them into hotels. 

The city of Saint Paul tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, they're following Governor Walz's order not to remove homeless encampments during the pandemic.