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Minneapolis agrees on location of temporary site for homeless encampment

The land is owned by the city and the Red Lake Nation.

Minneapolis councilors on Wednesday approved a new temporary location for the homeless people currently staying in tents at the Hiawatha-Franklin encampment.

A 1.25 acre site at 2109 Cedar Avenue, which includes parcels of land owned by the city and by the Red Lake Nation, will be the site of a temporary "Navigation Center."

The homeless at the Franklin/Hiawatha tent city will be relocated to the new center just a few hundred yards away, on the east side of Hiawatha Avenue, adjacent to the Hiawatha bike trail.

The current encampment, which has been rife with health, drug and crime problems as its grown over the summer, will be allowed to remain until the new center opens.

That might not be until early December, with the city first having to demolish three buildings and clean up the site. That's before setting up what MPR describes as at least three FEMA-style trailers at the site that, when a year's running costs are taken into account, is expected to cost up to $2.5 million.

When operational, the city says the Navigation Center will provide a "safe and service-rich environment" for residents of the encampment, many of whom are Native American, as well as somewhere warm to stay during the frigid winters.

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In a statement after the vote, Mayor Jacob Frey said: "Today’s Council vote is a positive step forward and reaffirms that the site at 2109 Cedar Avenue South is culturally appropriate and equipped to provide for the safety and health of people currently living at the encampment along Hiawatha Avenue.

"Our work will continue to be done in partnership with the native community and will be guided by several overriding goals: protecting everyone's health and safety, providing supportive social services, and ultimately finding more permanent housing options for our communities experiencing homelessness."

The city has also agreed to work on a new program for transitional housing geared towards Native Americans experiencing chronic homelessness. More information on that program will be released next month.

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