MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A growing homeless encampment in the North Loop has the city of Minneapolis and local businesses in search of solutions before temperatures drop.
Neighbors near the property on North 5th Street told us the tents started going up last month. What started with just a few has grown to a few dozen today.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: Light Snow Up North; Temps Well Above Average In Metro
“The biggest concern obviously is for the people who are in there,” said Envoy Thomas Canfield, the administrator of the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, which is just steps away from the encampment. “It’s just ironic because there’s a great solution sitting right there when they walk out of their tent every morning.”
“We know that homelessness is fueled by mental illness and substance abuse disorders,” Canfield added. “We have personally been in the encampment several times speaking to the residents that are there offering them emergency short term and long term shelter.”
Several businesses declined to speak to WCCO on camera about the situation but one sent us video from last week when they called an ambulance for a man from the camp, in some kind of crisis, in the middle of the day after he was caught screaming outside their entrance.
“We’ve seen vandalism, illegal activity such as drug use, sex trafficking,” Canfield said.
The Salvation Army also reports thefts from its thrift store.READ MORE: Police Fatally Shoot 'Armed Suspect' At Mounds View Liquor Store
The property is owned by Hamoudi Sabri, who told WCCO on the phone that “everyone deserves a place to live and with the millions being spent on the homeless. I don’t believe there’s been a lot of benefit,” he said.
It’s why Sabri said he’s providing power and some food and water to the people there.
When WCCO-TV asked the people there about their situation, they had no comment.
“Opening the lines of communication with many of these people can be very difficult,” Canfield said. “When they believe the choice they are making right now is perfectly fine. It’s just a real challenge to get people to make that choice.”
The City of Minneapolis provided the following statement to WCCO:
“The City has been proactively working with partners to provide the residents of the encampment with services with the goal of connecting people to shelter or a more permanent housing solution before winter. The City of Minneapolis approaches homeless encampments with the belief that: Everyone experiencing unsheltered homelessness is vulnerable and deserving of being treated with dignity and respect; the City must work with community partners to connect people experiencing homelessness to housing, shelter and services; and encampments represent a serious health and safety risk, particularly for those staying within the encampment. Learn more about the City’s response to homelessness here.”MORE NEWS: Woman Dies Days After Brooklyn Center Shooting