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How can we have so many people experiencing homelessness today in St Paul and Minneapolis? by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2018, 11:45 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It is heartbreaking to think that there are people in Minnesota sleeping in tents because they have nowhere else to go. Right now we have two tent cities in the Twin Cities that are big enough to be getting media attention. Last month I wrote about the encampment in Minneapolis. Today I stopped by the encampment in St Paul.

I have walked through the encampment before with Monica, advocate against homelessness. As she has pointed out to me, the encampment is ironically in the shadow of the Cathedral and cross street of Mother Teresa Calcutta Boulevard. I stopped by today to take pictures because we had heard that the police were chasing folks off – to which of course we heard they said – no worry, just arrest us.

When I arrived, people were setting their tents up – again. Last time I was there, I counted 22 tents. Today at 3 pm I saw 5 or 6 that were set up and people were moving in to set up camp.

I was talking to some guys as they set up their tent. Turns out the cops showed up around 8am and told everyone they would be coming back at 10:00 to clear then out. They did return and cleared folks out but again by 3:00 people were setting up again. Like Sisyphus rolling a rock up a hill, only to have it immediately roll back down.

The problem, my new friend told me, was human waste. There is no porta-potty at the encampment. He had places that he went – like a gas station but he didn’t think everyone did that. The encampment is near a wooded area – in what I’ve always called the alley of Summit Avenue, which means just beyond the backyard of some of the nicest houses in the city. Also, he told me, no one was going to be allowed to stay after November 1. Now what they are going to do to prevent people from staying, I don’t know.

So that’s what I know. I’m sharing pictures with permission. It just seems crazy that people have no where else to go, that we can’t find affordable housing, that the city would chase people out just to have them come back. I’ve talked to several people in the area. Some are working. Some are using. Many are on lists to get housing. Some are waiting for the new shelter to open up, others are dubious. Everyone is worried for the winter.


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