Minneapolis City Council addresses ongoing homeless encampment issue Tuesday

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Minneapolis City Council members discussed the ongoing issue of homeless encampments during a Committee of the Whole meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Some council members wanted the mayor’s office to review how the city clears encampments and how each city department, such as the Minneapolis Police Department, fits into that process. The leaders also wanted data on the effect clearing the camps has on the people who are living in them, followed by recommendations for how to help those people.

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Council member Aisha Chughtai, whose name sits atop Tuesday’s legislative directive next to council member Jason Chavez, argued clearing encampments doesn’t solve the problem.

“It exacerbates the problem, and it’s certainly not solving the crisis in any way. We just see new encampments half a mile away from where the original one was,” Chughtai said.

Chughtai and Chavez have echoed messages from activists who set camp outside Minneapolis City Hall last month to protest the encampments’ repeated destruction. At that time, activists wanted the city to postpone its actions against the encampments because they said the current pattern continues the marginalization of the people who live in them.

The council responded by voting “no” to the activists’ proposed moratorium, which would have paused the clearing of homeless encampments through April 30.

Alongside that vote, 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. 

The funding was in addition to the $3.5 million approved in September to help temporarily house families and get them into permanent housing.

Council members such as Jamal Osman and Latrisha Vetaw have backed 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. 

Check back for updates as 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS continues coverage of unhoused populations and encampments in Minnesota.