Minneapolis council delays decision on homeless camp relocation for a week
The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously Friday to delay a decision until next week on the site to relocate the Hiawatha homeless encampment, hoping to find an alternative to the two city-owned properties identified by staff.
The decision to postpone the choice until Sept. 26 came over the opposition of Mayor Jacob Frey, who cited the urgency of finding better temporary housing for dozens of people living in tents along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues as the clock ticks toward the cold weather
“I strongly encourage us to act,” Frey told the City Council. “We have a crisis of homelessness right now and it’s not a crisis that we can delay.”
The City Council took a preliminary 7-5 vote Thursday that endorsed the city-owned lot at 2600 Minnehaha Av. as the preferred site for a “navigation center,” where people being moved from the Hiawatha Avenue camp could live and receive services.
Representatives of two charter schools near the site packed the council chambers Friday to express their opposition, and applauded when the council voted to delay the decision.
Council members said they will explore more options about possible relocation sites.
“The council is struggling because it’s faced with a very difficult, very fast-moving, very expensive decision,” David Frank, the city’s community planning and economic development director, said in an interview after the council decision.
“We work for them to try to find a choice that’s as good as they can make in the current situation,” he said. “We will be talking to them to understand how they want to us to use these next few days.”
Frank said his staff spent at least three weeks looking for a relocation site, and he understood that choosing the 2600 Minnehaha Av. site wouldn’t receive unanimous support from the council and community members.
“As a body, you can tell us what we are optimizing for,” Frank told the City Council, who seemed frustrated with the delay. “We can probably find something faster and cheaper if we let go where is the location, it doesn’t have to be within a half-mile of the current encampment.”
Mukhtar M. Ibrahim • 612-673-4689 Twitter: @mukhtaryare