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"There's not a lot of options": Metro homeless encampments grow as temperatures drop, shelters fill up

Residents raise concerns for homeless population
Residents raise concerns for homeless population 02:06

MINNEAPOLIS -- As temperatures drop to their lowest levels in quite some time, more concern is being raised about the homeless population in the metro area.

Despite removal and sheltering efforts, several encampments have grown in size in recent weeks.

Allen Christian is the owner of the House of Balls Art Studio, just a stone's throw away from U.S. Bank Stadium. In between the studio and the stadium--this homeless encampment he says has multiplied in size since August. 

"First it was one, then three, then six and now I think there's…we counted over 100 tents," said Christian. "The two issues are sanitation and garbage removal. There's so many good hearts, good people bringing things. Food, clothing, tents. But there's so much excess."

Christian says his frustration has grown to the point that he created this art installation made of discarded clothing. It's meant to symbolize the plight of the homeless living in this encampment.

"And I'm calling it the invisible people hung out to dry," said Christian. "Instead of doing the same old thing. Bulldoze them, move them, shift the problem around. How can we think outside the box to have some long-term solutions for this issue?"

Margaret King works for Catholic Charities trying to help the homeless in the short term, but she says their hundreds of shelter beds in the Twin Cities are full every night. 

"Nobody really would choose to live in a tent in Minnesota in the winter," said King. "People choose the option that works best for them in the moment, and given that shelters tend to generally be full every night, there's not a lot of options for people."

Both King and Christian agree--the people aren't the problem, but a solution is needed. 

"Don't make it a judgment about thinking that these are all drug addicts and thieves and whatever. These are us," Christian said.

Catholic Charities says if you want to help, they'll be holding their 30th annual "Tree of Giving" at the Mall of America on Dec. 17 and 18.

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