Minneapolis City Council approves location to move homeless encampment

“Our next step, and I wanted to say this very clearly is to move with urgency."

Edgar Linares
September 26, 2018 - 6:47 pm

By Edgar Linares

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The Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved moving forward with the Red Lake Nation to use their 1.5-acre property located at 2109 Cedar Avenue South to serve as a temporary housing location for hundreds of homeless people currently living in an encampment in south Minneapolis.

The piece of land will serve as the city’s “navigation center” for roughly 300 people living in tents south of the city near Hiawatha and Cedar Avenues. Many living there are Native American.

“Our next step, and I wanted to say this very clearly, is to move with urgency,” said Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, Minneapolis City Coordinator. “Just because of this vote today does not mean that we forget and not move with the same elaborate nimbleness, and agility that we’ve been doing.”

The Cedar Avenue location was one of three up for consideration during Wednesday’s council meeting. It’s close to the current encampment and has the support of ten Minnesota tribal nations.

In front of the council, Sam Strong with the Red Lake Nation said the issue of homeless American-Indians started back in the 50s.

“They relocated natives from reservations to Minneapolis and other urban areas,” said Strong. “It was a terrible policy and obviously it didn’t work. But what it did do was it created a segment of our population that are here in the cities, and for decades and decades have experienced homelessness.”

The navigation center will house at least 150 people and it will cost between $2 million and $2.5 million to teardown existing buildings at the Cedar Avenue location and install trailers. For six months, it would serve as a temporary housing facility until the Red Lake Nation begins building a permanent facility for services and affordable housing. Unfortunately, the city expects the navigation center will not be ready until December.

“We’ll be placing orders for material,” said David Frank, explaining the city’s next steps to the council. Frank is executive director of City Planning and Economic Development. “We’ll be talking to contractors and of course volunteers and other providers.”

When asked why the existing buildings can’t be used, Frank told the council they’re industrial buildings that are not safe or accessible.

There is a current tenant at the Cedar Avenue location that plans to be out before the end of October. As to who will run the Navigation Center, that's not clear.

City and planning officials will report back to the city council on October 24th.