Residents of homeless tent camp in St. Paul sent packing

November 15, 2018

Saying they were concerned about peoples safety, city and state officials moved Thursday morning to disperse a homeless tent camp along 35E in downtown St. Paul.

By late morning, about 15 to 18 tents remained on the site, and some were coming down. That was already well below the 30 tents that were standing at the site last week. By late morning Thursday, campers were gathering their belongings, some of them loaded into shopping carts, as they pondered where they would go next.

Ricardo Cervantes, director of the citys Department of Safety and Inspections, said that the goal is to get everyone in the camp into shelters, if they want it. That could be the winter shelter space that Ramsey County has created in the lower level of its human services building on Kellogg Boulevard.

But Brian Lucio and his fianc Kathy Summer dont want that. As a police van rolled down the sidewalk nearby, Lucio, 53, said the couple is on their way to the much larger encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues in Minneapolis.

Lucio said hes been waiting for permanent housing since 2017, and has been camping on this spot in St. Paul since February. It hasnt been bad, he said. I got heat. I got my girl.

The danger posed by the need for heat, from fires to a case of carbon monoxide poisoning, made officials conclude that it wasnt safe to allow the tent camp to remain, Cervantes said. Also, residents of the camp were throwing objects over the fence onto the 35E roadway, he said.

Flyers went up around the camp alerting them that at 10 a.m. Thursday, people would be there to help them move out. Christine Michels, senior program manager with Catholic Charities, was helping Emmanuel Morgan and his wife figure out their next move.

They had moved to the Twin Cities two months ago from South Dakota, where their four children stayed behind with their grandmother. After Morgans wife felt unsafe at a shelter, they moved into the tent.

Morgan starts a new job at Burger King this coming weekend.

We were hoping for just one more month, just so we could get a little place to live, he said.

Where theyll go now was still unclear.

James Walsh 612 673-7428

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