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Homeless Encampment Again Growing Along Hiawatha Ave In South Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A homeless encampment is reappearing in south Minneapolis along Hiawatha Avenue.

Over the weekend, at least 30 tents were spotted at the homeless encampment, located near Hiawatha Avenue and 26th Street.

In a statement, the City of Minneapolis called it the largest encampment in the city and said Minneapolis police's Lt. Grant Snyder and street outreach teams have been "actively engaged there."

Related: 'Wall Of Forgotten Natives' Lays Bare Mpls. Housing Crisis (2018)

In Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order, those suffering from homelessness are exempt from restrictions.

"They may move between emergency shelters, dropin centers, and encampments. Encampments should not be subject to sweeps or disbandment by state or local governments, as such sweeps or disbandment increase the potential risk and spread of COVID-19," the order reads.

The City of Minneapolis also released an overview of the work it has done with Hennepin County officials to address the encampment and homelessness in the city. In part, it says there are isolation units for homeless individuals who are symptomatic for COVID-19. There have also been four hygiene stations installed, including one at the LRT Station at Lake Street and Hiawatha Station


Here's the overview in full from the City of Minneapolis:

· Our partners at the County took immediate action to contract with hotels and get vulnerable, high-risk seniors and others out of shelters and into alternative accommodations.

· There are isolation units available for people experiencing homelessness who are symptomatic for COVID-19.

· Hennepin County Healthcare for the Homeless manages the triage process and there is a system in place in where shelter staff, outreach workers, or individuals themselves can call a nurse triage line to be screen for COVID symptoms and get access to testing and isolation units if needed.

· The City and County have worked together to help shelters stay open 24 hours a day. The City repurposed existing federal dollars to help support this effort.

· The City, Hennepin County and Downtown Improvement District (DID) have partnered to provide handwashing and portable toilets at downtown locations.

· The Salvation Army Harbor Lights Center, DID, MAD DADS, the City and Hennepin County have partnered to open a safe space at Currie Avenue and 10th Street designed to help people experiencing homelessness safely comply with the state's stay-at-home order.

· The City has installed four hygiene stations to provide access to bathrooms and handwashing stations for people experiencing homelessness. The hygiene stations include portable toilets, handwashing stations, sharps containers and trash receptacles.
- Broadway/Bryant Av N.
- Hope Church near HCMC
- All Nations Church – 23rd/Bloomington
- Lake/Hiawatha LRT Station

· Hennepin County has also opened its South Service Hub for bathroom access during the day.

· City staff have worked with Minneapolis Parks staff to open some park bathrooms to serve people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

· Officers from the MPD homeless and vulnerable persons initiative has been out monitoring encampments and interacting with street outreach teams and people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. They have been delivering food and water and helping people access resources that may be available to them.

· The City Health Department has ordered hygiene kits and hand towelettes and information about COVID-19 that will be distributed by MPD and street outreach teams.

· The City and County will continue to work together to plan for the response to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness as the situation continues to evolve and in recognition that the Stay At Home order will change in the weeks and months ahead.

· The Governor's Stay at Home Executive Order exempts individuals without a home, which means they may move between emergency shelters, drop-in centers and encampments. It also states that encampments should not be subject to "sweeps or disbandment" by state or local governments due to potential risk and spread of COVID-19.

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