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'A Human Tragedy': Community Searches For Answers To Address Growing Homeless Camp

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A homeless camp that's growing in size is shedding light on the housing crisis in Minneapolis--and sparking debate.

About 150 tents now line Hiawatha Avenue near Franklin.

Many viewers reached out with comments and questions on Facebook after our story Wednesday. On Thursday, WCCO's Angela Davis went to get answers.

"I think for one thing, it is a human tragedy. There is so much potential in every individual who's there," Executive Director of Minnesota Housing Partnership Anne Mavity said.

Mavity says the homeless problem in the metro area is in many was a math problem.

Records show there are 102,000 households in the Twin Cities with incomes of $26,000 or less, but there are only about 34,000 housing units available that they could afford.

That means about 68,000 of the lowest-income families are left without good options.

"They can be working full time and beyond and still not be able to afford an apartment," Mavity said.

Mavity added that housing costs are increasing faster than incomes, and population growth is outpacing housing production.

"It continues to get worse and the gap continues to grow," Mavity said.

Lack of a job also contributes to homelessness. Some of the people living in the tents say they've had a a hard time getting a job because they have a criminal record. The Department of Human Rights recently created an Employers Toolkit for Reviewing Criminal History.

"What we are trying to do is provide some commons sense tools that employers can use to assess how great the risk is to hire someone with a criminal conviction," said human rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

"Something that happened 10, 20, 30 years ago--should I really take that into consideration and prevent someone from getting a job?"

For now, the people living in the tents remain until a better option becomes clear.

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