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St. Paul homeless camp is no more – but what happens now?

The city shut it down on Thursday, but challenges are just beginning for many

After months of controversy, the homeless encampment on St. Paul's Cathedral Hill has been officially cleared out and shut down.

However, many of its residents remain homeless despite the city's offer to relocate them to shelter.

On Thursday morning, police showed up in vans to vacate the settlement; by the end of the day, all the tents were gone and "the site was deserted," the Star Tribune reports. 

Safety was a primary concern in clearing out the camp.

City officials were concerned about the fast-approaching brutal Minnesota winter, with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter telling the Pioneer Press, "living in a tent in a Minnesota winter is not ideal or safe for anyone.”

Additionally, the paper notes, trash and "even a tent" from the encampment had found their way onto the adjacent highway. Fires have broken out at the site as well.

But the closure of the camp has created some problems.

A number of the residents migrated to the controversial homeless encampment along Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis, KARE 11 reports. 

And though the city had offered help getting the displaced to homeless shelters, many refused – because shelters have a reputation for being "nasty," unclean, and unsafe, the station notes.

“A shelter for some people is like being in jail,” one man told FOX 9. 

The much larger encampment in Minneapolis has faced similar problems as well as a number of deaths in recent months, but has survived numerous attempts to get it shut down

City officials and the Red Lake Nation are working on building an emergency shelter at a nearby site owned by the tribe.

An official with the American Indian Community Development Corporation tells WCCO they hope to have the center ready by mid-December at the latest. 

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