Over the last month, a homeless camp has developed in the Cedar/Hiawatha Avenue area of South Minneapolis. Dedicated to giving assistance when and where it is needed most, Open Your Heart is concerned about the people living there. We recently provided funding for the daily purchase and distribution of food, hygiene, and other essential supplies for residents. As of August 21st, there were 103 tents as well as assorted blankets, tarps, lean-tos, etc. There seem to be more women than originally thought, as well. The City of Minneapolis has been picking up trash and they brought in a number of port a potties and hand sanitation stations. There is limited running water and public and community health workers have been visiting to provide any assistance they can.
Frankly, it is unclear where this is heading. There are far fewer shelter beds for adults than needed. There are approximately 170 people in the camp and many, many more outside in places out of the public view. In addition, Metropolitan Transit estimates that 250 homeless people ride the light rail trains every night as there is simply not enough shelter available.
Camps of this nature are not new. In fact, two years ago, Open Your Heart visited and provided emergency support to a large encampment on the Leech Lake Reservation. Shortly thereafter a new shelter opened nearby which has helped. In many cities across the country, camps have popped up. Many who are homeless feel safer in larger, more visible camps than they do in smaller hidden enclaves. Some find the shelter system inadequate or unsafe and would rather be outside than in shelter. But the common narrative that people would ‘rather be outside, or want to be outside’ is inaccurate. They may prefer to be outside in a camp than their immediate alternatives: a dangerous or unhygienic shelter, an unsafe home, or with an abusive partner, but not in preference to being in their own home or at least in safe and supportive shelter.
Open Your Heart will continue to provide what assistance we can to ensure that those on the street have their most basic needs of food, hygiene, health, and shelter available through our Homeless Camp Fund. Of course long term solutions are essential and many are working on that, obviously with varying degrees of success. We are a small organization and feel our best impact is offering basic needs. We could not do this without you. Thank you for your generous support.
If you’d like to help, please make a donation by clicking on the “Donate Today!” tab and mention “Homeless Camp Fund” in the comments box. 100% will be spent on emergency supplies and equipment.