Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - For months, Peavey Plaza housed members of the Occupy Movement. But it quickly became a place that business owners and police call “a problem.”
Police say the increasing poor conditions for people living at Peavey Plaza led to a 300 percent increase in arrests in that area.
Police say there are no more Occupy events at Peavey, and the folks left behind are homeless people in need of shelter.
But for the people who call this park home, they have nowhere else to go, even though they were told a shelter was opening up for them.
They were told last week to leave Peavey Plaza because it was being closed for cleaning and maintenance. A Plaza dweller named Streets says little changed.
“People still sleep here,” said Streets.
Police say an increase of calls for people who are drunk, using the bathroom in public and fighting is connected to the growing number of people who sleep here.
Streets has called this place home since April.
He says he and his friends were told by people who work with the homeless population to leave.
“We want to open up a shelter just for you guys you guys have made your point,” he said.
They went to First Covenant Church, but when they arrived, Streets said the doors were closed.
Senior Pastor Dan Collison says that the church was caught off guard.
“We just couldn’t flick a switch and open our doors. Shelters require staffing resources. They require food,” said Collison.
First Covenant could not help.
No money, no volunteers, and no resources sent many of those looking for housing back into the streets.
“Seven new people a night applying for homeless shelters within the network of services. So 50 a week are at a point of saying ‘I need a place to stay that is safe,’” Collison said.
There have not been very many safe nights in Peavey Park.
According to police, officers have responded to serious crimes including sexual assault.
A handful of people say they understand why police had to clear the plaza, but they will continue to call this place home until help is available.
“All I know what I got to do right now is to sit right here man, I’m not leaving,” said Patch.
Pastor Collison says he hopes to have First Covenant open by October 1. He believes it takes an ongoing level of participation from everyone to help those in need. He is looking for volunteers.
Click here to visit First Covenant Church’s website.