By Angela Davis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A homeless camp that’s growing in size is shedding light on the housing crisis in Minneapolis–and sparking debate.

About 150 tents now line Hiawatha Avenue near Franklin.

Many viewers reached out with comments and questions on Facebook after our story Wednesday. On Thursday, WCCO’s Angela Davis went to get answers.

“I think for one thing, it is a human tragedy. There is so much potential in every individual who’s there,” Executive Director of Minnesota Housing Partnership Anne Mavity said.

Mavity says the homeless problem in the metro area is in many was a math problem.

Records show there are 102,000 households in the Twin Cities with incomes of $26,000 or less, but there are only about 34,000 housing units available that they could afford.

That means about 68,000 of the lowest-income families are left without good options.

“They can be working full time and beyond and still not be able to afford an apartment,” Mavity said.

Mavity added that housing costs are increasing faster than incomes, and population growth is outpacing housing production.

“It continues to get worse and the gap continues to grow,” Mavity said.

Lack of a job also contributes to homelessness. Some of the people living in the tents say they’ve had a a hard time getting a job because they have a criminal record. The Department of Human Rights recently created an Employers Toolkit for Reviewing Criminal History.

“What we are trying to do is provide some commons sense tools that employers can use to assess how great the risk is to hire someone with a criminal conviction,” said human rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

“Something that happened 10, 20, 30 years ago–should I really take that into consideration and prevent someone from getting a job?”

For now, the people living in the tents remain until a better option becomes clear.

Comments (3)
  1. Steve Ballek says:

    Just another reason why universal basic income is a necessity. So people who, for any number of perfectly justifiable reasons, are unable to get or keep a job, can still have a platform to pick themselves up from, rather spending their time desperately trying to reach up to and out of the poverty ceiling. No, it’s not going to make people stop working. And no it’s not going to cost people more money, because the money is already there, and then some. All you’d have to do is transfer existing funds from failed assistance programs like or similar to welfare that only feed to keep people in poverty to a universal basic income program. Because when people are not constantly worried about if they’re going to afford to be able to keep their heat on in the winter, or if they’ll even have food to feed themselves or their children, they’ll be more willing to improve their situation, and doing so will not feel like a punishment. Sadly, it’ll never happen. Not in our lifetime at least.

    1. Universal Basic Income?? So banks can charge anything they want for a home or apartment? Why not tell the banks to quit artificially inflating home prices instead? and add median “INDIVIDUAL” income to the equation instead of Median “Household” income so single people and single parents can afford homes without being in a constant state of debt. It may be that they are considering 4-5 working people living in one home as the total income of 1 person.

      If the better business bureau recommends only 1/3 of your income for rent or mortgage, and the average median income of a single person in the USA is $30,000, That means 1 person should be able to find a place to live for $833 a month.

      If minimum wage is $9.65 per hour in Minnesota, that means one person should be able to find a place to live (by themselves) for $557 a month.

      You just want $15/hr so banks can sell homes for $250,000 a month and you have to rent out bedrooms and basement spaces to afford the house.

      You don’t have to go far to see a lot of vacant homes not listed on MLS in the Twin Cities — someone is just keeping homes off the market to manipulate the prices.

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