BY ELINA KOLSTAD
Homeless encampments are popping up in more and more Minneapolis Parks. One of these sites was just bulldozed by the city in Powderhorn Park, where the phenomenon began over a month ago. To be clear, the city left one of the two encampments in the park in place for now.
This is starting to feel like déjàvu all over again. At least when the Wall of Forgotten Natives encampment was taken down, the city made token efforts to provide a temporary housing alternative first. This time, residents were simply told to pack their belongings and try to find their way to another park, with no guarantee that they wouldn’t be kicked out of that park.
Not only is this infuriating and heartbreaking to witness, it’s also chilling. We are on the precipice of what is already being called an eviction tsunami and we are failing miserably to deal with the homelessness that exists now. Rumors swirl that the city paid the contractor $300,000 to have them pull down the closest thing to a home these individuals had.Many city residents wonder at the number of these same people that money could have housed instead.
There were and are legitimate issues at the homeless encampments, ranging from violence and assault to drug use and prostitution. Often people find themselves homeless as a result of mental illness, drug addiction, and trauma. People are messy and poverty exacerbates this messiness. It is well past time for us to discard our obsession with a “deservingpoor.” Bulldoze the notion, toss it in a dumpster, and light it on fire.
Housing is a human right. People deserve a stable home whether they are a good person or a giant asshole. I’m not saying this because often those who commit these grievous acts often do so because they were victimized themselves. Our focus as a society on whether those in need of help deserve it or not takes resources and energy out of solving the problem at hand, which has a far worse impact on those “good” poor we claim to have empathy and compassion for.
We need to act NOW. We need real solutions that can be implemented and expanded quickly as needs arise. Until there is political action on par with the problem, we are stuck with doing what we can as individuals. To that end I have started a fundraiser on behalf of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA) that has done such amazing work to not only do their best to help those who are already homeless but also have set up a rental assistance program to help prevent people from becoming homeless. I am attempting to raise $5,000 for them to put towards these efforts. https://www.givemn.org/story/Gvu2eg
For many years we as the housed in Minneapolis have been able to tell the homeless to go be poor somewhere else. There is no more somewhere else.