Minneapolis homeless camp grows to 140 tents as more people arrive seeking help

“The sad things is the people think if they come here they will get housing quicker which is completely untrue."

Edgar Linares
September 11, 2018 - 6:53 pm

By Edgar Linares

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People volunteers at the homeless encampment near Hiawatha and Cedar Avenues say each day more and more homeless families arrive seeking services and safety — in part motivated by the city's promise to close the camp. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he hopes to find housing for everyone at the encampment by the end of September. According to Maren Hardy, a volunteer and healthcare provider with the American Indian Community Development Corporation, the mayor's stance has actually help increase the flow of people into the camp. 

Hardy said there were about 140 tents currently at the site, and several hundred people, with numbers growing daily. 

“The sad thing is the people think if they come here they will get housing quicker which is completely untrue. There’s still a process,” Hardy said. 

As WCCO Radio interviewed Hardy Tuesday afternoon, a young man began convulsing a few feet away. Hardy quickly asked if he was overdosing and needed Narcan, an emergency treatment for opioid overdoses. Luckily, he didn’t and moments later, he got up and walked away.

“On a daily basis. Not just one time a day, this happens (daily). It’s horrible!” she said. 

On Saturday, Alissa Skipintheday, 26, was found unconscious and not breathing near the entrance of the encampment, according to the Star Tribune. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she died from complications with chronic asthma. The Star Tribune reported that her family and friends said she did not have an inhaler and she had been there for a few weeks.

A funeral for Skipintheday will be held on Thursday at the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibew Community Center on the Mille Lacs Reservation.

Dr. Anthony Stately, the Chief Executive of the Native American Community Clinic (NACC) on E. Franklin Avenue, told the Star Tribune: “This is a tragic event that is painful for that entire community. It really highlights the critical nature of conditions at the camp and the urgent need for on-site medical care.”

Currently, there’s a needle exchange program and HIV testing available at the medical tent where Hardy volunteers. There’s also showers for families, as well as food and clothing.

The camp has been dubbed “The Wall of the Forgotten Natives.” Many, like Hardy, believe the tents are bringing needed attention to the issue of homelessness among Native-Americans.