Action promised as concerns rise over growing homeless camp in Minneapolis

The encampment has sprung up near Hiawatha Avenue in recent months.
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If you've recently been in the area of Hiawatha and Cedar avenues in Minneapolis, you'll probably have noticed a row of tents lining the road.

It's the site of an increasingly large encampment of homeless people just north of East Phillips Park, most of whom are Native Americans staying in more than 70 tents not far from the Little Earth housing complex.

MinnPost reports that the encampment has become a "landing spot" for homeless people sleeping rough in other parts of the city, such as Minnehaha Park, Lake Street, or trails near the Mississippi River, who see safety in sleeping as a group.

More than 120 people are now living on the narrow strip of land, including children and pets, a growing crisis that is prompting concern it could become a permanent feature of the city.

But action is coming from City of Minneapolis and its partners, including Native American groups and other government agencies, with Mayor Jacob Frey pledging the camp will be gone by the end of September.

A coalition of agencies has embarked upon an effort firstly to address the health and safety of those staying at the encampment, amid concerns that women in particular are at risk of being victims of violent or sexual crimes at the camp.

Then, during September, it will provide an offsite location providing access to showers, bathrooms, medics and housing service providers.

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After the camp closes at the end of September, the government agencies will work to find the homeless housing placements and access to healthcare.

It comes amid wider housing challenges in Minneapolis that this year is seeing Frey pledge to pump $40 million of city funding to address the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Many of those staying in the tents have told the Star Tribune that they have struggled to find affordable accommodation.

Community members step in

The situation has led to a response from the wider Minneapolis community, who have been donating their money and time to assist those at the encampment.

An event to help the camp dwellers will be held on Sept. 9, with those planning to attend asked to bring food, water, hygiene products, socks, tampons and "any skilled service you can provide for free," as well as money to donate.

The response to the event has been "overwhelming," organizers say on Facebook, to the point they're urging people not to wait until Sept. 9 to help out.

"I am highly suggesting that you not wait for this event and donate as soon as you can or wait a few days or weeks afterwards," it says.

You can find more information on how to help at FranklinHiawathaCamp.org.

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