South Minneapolis residents call for more homeless shelters, say situation is a 'humanitarian crisis'

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Some south Minneapolis neighbors say they have a humanitarian crisis on their hands. They say there are two encampments in Powderhorn Park, with almost 100 people living there. On Tuesday night, they called a meeting with elected leaders to ask for more.

“I've slept underneath railroad bridges,” said Vaughn Yainps, who is homeless. “I've slept underneath buildings and bushes. I've slept in this park in the bushes. I've slept all over. I even slept underneath people's porches.”

Yainps is one of dozens of people sleeping at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis, where the homeless population is growing every day.

“There's not enough housing for the homeless. They can't afford houses, whether that's $1500 or $900 a month,” said Yainps.

Lee George moved into the South Minneapolis neighborhood in 2012.

“Homeless and unhoused individuals have always been here, and are here," said George. "And the resources here haven't been allocated to support them, at other times either. It just so happens that now they're literally outside in front of some of our front doors.”

George calls it a humanitarian crisis.

“We haven't seen any sort of coordinated resources by our state agencies, or county agencies, or elected officials,” said George.

Neighbors work to support homeless, find housing solution as encampment pops up in Powderhorn Park

Some local elected lawmakers say they’re aware of the issue.

“It's pretty easy. If I ask you, what would be a long-term solution, it would be having a nice place to live, a warm shelter and a place that you can raise your kids and be safe,” said Sen Jeff Hayden, DFL-South Minneapolis.

No specific action plans have been proposed.

Until then, some are taking matters into their own hands.

“The park board can't solve the problems of homelessness,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Londel French. “That's not what we do, but we are a member of this community. And we are trying to do our part to make sure that these folks who are suffering from being unsheltered have a nice place to stay.”

“This is an issue that we can't ignore anymore. We can't ignore it,” said George.

“I'm trying to survive,” said Yainps.

Casper Hill, media relations coordinator for the city of Minneapolis released a statement saying:

“The City is actively involved in discussions with partners from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Hennepin County, the State and street outreach teams to implement both short- and long-term strategies to provide support and resources to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The Minneapolis Health Department is conducting health assessments and is providing public health support, such as hygiene stations and COVID-19 prevention efforts, to people in encampments on public land."