Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis was closed Tuesday morning so city workers could clean up after groups of homeless people who've been sleeping in the plaza for the last few months.
Monica Nilsson, the street outreach director for St. Stephens Shelter, said she supports the city's decision to move people out of the plaza — even if it's just temporary.
"I believe the Downtown Improvement District and the Minneapolis Police Department saw that it's a health and safety issue and people were exposed by sleeping in such a public place, that they didn't have access to basic needs, like a toilet," she said. "But I think they may be back there or in other areas of the cities until they have a place to go."
Nilsson said St. Stephens is trying to find housing for people who were camping at the plaza, but emergency shelters in the Twin Cities are full. She said the supply of affordable housing for low-income people is scarce.
Police officials posted a notice about the plaza closing on its Facebook page. A department spokesman wrote that the area near the plaza has seen a jump in reported crime over the same period last year.
"Although the majority of calls and arrest are for low level crimes, (public intoxication, public urination, drinking and disorderly conduct) there have been several serious crimes including criminal sexual conduct, robberies, and serious assaults," the post read.
Nilsson said many of the violent incidents involve crimes against homeless people.
"We might think women and children need safe shelter, but any man who lays his head down outside and closes his eyes is as much a potential victim for someone who kicks you in the head or hits you with a baseball bat, as any woman or child," she said.