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Minneapolis, St. Paul Taking Different Approaches To Housing The Homeless

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As the temperatures cool, the Minneapolis City Council is moving forward with a plan to relocate hundreds of people living in sprawling downtown encampment.

One-point-five-million dollars will be used to pay for a temporary Navigation Center for the people who are currently camping out near Franklin and Hiawatha avenues.

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

"This really is an emergency measure to make sure that folks at the encampment have access to a warm place to sleep throughout the winter," said Minneapolis Councilmember Andrew Johnson.

The temporary navigation site will be at 2109 Cedar Avenue, a 1.25-acre site that is owned by the Red Lake Nation. The center has similar models in San Diego and Seattle.

St. Paul Homeless Camp
(credit: CBS)

"That said, you know, this is something that is obviously going to be unique for our city given the temperatures we deal with and the cold, and I think that increases the sense of urgency around this," Johnson said.

The fast track agenda is different than plans in St Paul, where a much smaller encampment exists above Interstate 35E. City and county officials have said there is no plan to relocate the homeless for the winter.

"The bigger encampment gets all the attention. St. Paul, not so much," said Todd Feske, founder of Walking With a Purpose.

We found charity volunteers passing out food and supplies at the St. Paul encampment Saturday morning, where health officials are focusing on keeping the grounds clean and safe

"It's got to come where we actually get them in a safe environment where we can start getting them help," Feske said.

Three people have died so far living in the Minneapolis encampment.

"We also need to focus on long-term solutions as well, because right now, our state is not adequately funding housing options," Johnson said.

The Ramsey County Government Center plans to open the basement level of its East Building to shelter 60 people through the winter. That will begin on November 1.

WEB EXTRA: WCCO Photojournalist Helps Put Out Fire At St. Paul Homeless Encampment

WCCO Photojournalist Helps Put Out Tent Fire At Homeless Camp

WCCO photojournalist Dymanh Chhoun proved to be in the right place at the right time Saturday morning when he helped put out a tent fire at St. Paul's homeless encampment.

Posted by WCCO-TV | CBS Minnesota on Saturday, October 20, 2018
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