MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of a homeless people in Minneapolis are scrambling to find options after being told they will be evicted from their encampment.

On New Year’s Eve morning, 28 people woke up to 72-hour eviction notices from the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board zip-tied to the fencing around their Minnehaha Park tent encampment.

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“It wasn’t too much of a shock, it kind of felt like it was going to come after the holidays,” Robert Thomas, who has been living in this encampment since the summer, said.

Thomas says they are finding storage for their belongings right now as a backup if they are forced to move, but the plan is to peacefully protest and keep their tents standing.

“A lot of us intend to fight this. We’re not going to let go of this real easy,” said Thomas. “We’re just planning on staying here and prevent them from coming through and taking our homes.”

(credit: CBS)

The MPRB argues that the winter elements are too dangerous for them to be outside and want to place them in temporary shelters.

Their full statement:

“The MPRB has consistently acknowledged that parks do not provide dignified shelter. The MPRB has worked with state, county, city, and social service organizations to find safe shelter and for people experiencing homelessness in park encampments before cold weather settles in. Winter has now come to Minnesota and fires and propane are not allowed in Minneapolis parks. Camping in parks now is simply not humane or safe. Three people have already died at homeless encampments in Minneapolis this year. All MPRB actions and efforts have been shared publicly and have been shared online at www.minneapolisparks.org/encampments.”

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Thomas argues eviction will just put them on the streets again, which is far more dangerous.

“We are surviving just fine out here, these tents are the only thing sheltering us from the elements. Without these camps, there’s going to be more homeless people wondering the streets,” said Thomas.

Another positive Thomas says is happening at these encampments is that they’re providing a safe community where they share resources to survive.

“This has actually cut down on crime for us. People who live here who have no homes or way to live usually steal things, they’ve had to steal anything or do anything like that,” said Thomas.

Therese Linderholm lives nearby and walks Minnehaha Park trails.

“I feel they’ve been relatively peaceful, they’ve not caused anyone in the neighborhood any harm,” said Linderholm.

She believes the city needs more affordable housing to give those living here a long term solution.

“I don’t know if evicting the homeless camps, helps with the homeless problem. I think right now we just need to find housing for them,” said Linderholm.

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The MPRB notice listed five short-term shelter options, but some tent residents fear their safety with the overcrowding that could happen in shelters during the pandemic.

Marielle Mohs