Minneapolis pushes back decision to move homeless camp by a week

It follows opposition from two schools located near the proposed new location.
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Minneapolis councilors voted on Friday to delay a decision on moving the Hiawatha/Franklin homeless encampment by a week.

The city council had tentatively agreed at a committee meeting on Thursday to shift those living at the growing tent city at Hiawatha and Franklin avenues to a city-owned lot at 2600 Minnehaha Avenue.

The location was picked so it would be easier to provide the hundreds living at the encampment – most of whom are Native American – with access to health services and other amenities, while work continues to find them more permanent places to stay.

But it was opposed by teachers and parents from nearby charter schools, including the adjacent Aurora Charter school, who attended the Friday meeting to oppose the site.

Ultimately their pleas were heard as the council voted unanimously to delay the decision by a week so they could look at possible alternative locations.

"Site aside, we're being asked to put people who are some of our more vulnerable population into these FEMA-style trailers here or FEMA-style trailers there, and I just feel like there are more dignified options that we can explore," said Ward 5 Councilor Jeremiah Ellison.

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The vote passed over the objection of Mayor Jacob Frey, who said it was vital that the city acts now to address the ongoing health crisis at the camp, with council officers noting that even when a site has been located it could still take up to 2 months to prepare it for the camp dwellers.

At least two deaths have been linked to the encampment in recent weeks, while Frey said on Thursday alone three people overdosed at the site, while women are being victimized.

"People are hurting right now at this encampment," Frey said. "Families are in need."

"I do not believe delaying is the right option, but I do agree wholeheartedly right now there is no solution on the table that is perfect," he added.

UPDATE: Since this story was published, Mayor Jacob Frey says he has found a possible alternative location, a 1.5-acre lot owned by the Red Lake Nation at 2109 Cedar Ave S.

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