Lower Landing Park seeing increase in homeless population

Updated: July 23, 2019 07:10 PM

It's a common sight to see people biking, running and walking on the trail that runs through the Lower Landing Park along the edge of the Mississippi River. Over the years there's always been a homeless presence but now, it's growing.

The city of St. Paul acknowledges the number of people living at the park is growing. City staff has tracked the situation for several weeks.


Michelle Decker Gerrard is with the Wilder Foundation, a local non-profit that conducts the Minnesota homeless study. She says there have always been people staying outside.

The number of people experiencing homelessness specifically in Ramsey County who are not in shelters has nearly doubled in the past six years.

"For most people they get to pick where they want to live. And for some of these populations they're forced into a certain option that might not be the best fit for them or they want freedom," she said.

The Wilder Foundation held a workshop Tuesday to help people use data from the study to better serve the homeless population. Michelle said Minnesota has more than 10,000 people experiencing homelessness, a 10% increase over the previous study from three years ago. She says Minnesota needs more affordable housing.

"People with poverty issues or other barriers are competing for the same type of rental housing with people who are fully employed, don't have a lot of issues going on and losing," she said.

Homeless Encampments

Ramsey County is expanding its services for those who dont have a roof over their heads. The county decided to keep their winter overflow shelter with 64 beds open year-round starting in August. And the Union Gospel Mission, along with Higher Grounds, are coordinating with the county to add a combined 60 beds at their respective shelters.

The city says they've had up to 100 homeless camps in the city. 64 of the camps have been cleaned and cleared and 15 more are scheduled to be removed in the coming weeks.

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Todd Wilson

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