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Board says homeless can stay in Minneapolis parks

Nearly 200 tents have been set up in Powderhorn Park.

People experiencing homelessness will be allowed to stay overnight in Minneapolis parks, according to a resolution the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) passed Wednesday. 

This comes as a growing number of people have started living in the city's Powderhorn Park after being evicted from a hotel that served as a "sanctuary" for people experiencing homelessness during the recent unrest.

There has also been a rise in the number of homeless on Twin Cities streets as the outbreak of COVID-19 has seen shelters have to limit their space due to social distancing.

According to the Parks Board resolution, there are people occupying nearly 200 tents in different parts of Powderhorn Park, while people are seeking space in other parks and areas throughout the city.

"Homelessness in Minnesota is a crisis.” MPRB President Jono Cowgill said in a statement. “We realize that this is not a permanent solution, so we are asking the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and state of Minnesota to step up and find a sustainable, dignified housing solution for folks who are experiencing homelessness right now. In the meantime, we are not going to push people out of public spaces when they have nowhere else to go.”

The resolution declares the MPRB's commitment to providing refuge space to people experiencing homelessness. Prior to this resolution, park police would enforce the no overnight camping rule in the city's parks. 

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The resolution notes it'll work with state and local officials, as well as nonprofits, to come up with long-term housing solutions for people in the encampment and others experiencing homelessness.

The Star Tribune reports that park police gave people living in the Powderhorn encampment 72 hours notice saying the camp would be dismantled, but since then the MPRB has set up portable restrooms, a shower trailer, trash bins, running water and electricity in the park. 

Reactions on social media to this news ranged from people cheering the decision to criticizing it. Some were happy to see this temporary solution, while others said more needs to be done to help the homeless. Some joked that now everyone can camp in the parks for free and others criticized it because their kids can no longer play in the park. 

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