Groups work together to help Mpls. homeless encampment

Todd Weldon sweeps the grass of the area around his tent.
Todd Weldon rakes the grass of the area around his tent to clean it up. "We're just homeless people that are struggling. Some of us are still aching of pain over our poverty. Me, I'm out here because I lost my son, I've been numbing the pain." Todd said on August 17, 2018.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

Relief and outreach organizations banded together to help and supply a homeless encampment in south Minneapolis Friday morning.

The camp stretches out for almost 1,000 feet, not far from Hiawatha Avenue, with its back against the wall of a residential complex.

Around 100 people live in 40 tents, positioned close together in the small area of shade. Many who live there say they are Native American. Some are dealing with addiction. They live at the encampment because they feel safer together than alone on the streets. Resident Angie Martin says they treat each other like family.

Angie Martin was one of the first residents to set a tent up.
Angie Martin was one of the first residents to set a tent up, soon after more people started coming to the area and the encampment started to grow.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

"I try to do the best I can for everybody, I try to do what I can for people. If I got it, they got it," Martin said.

The camp has no access to clean water and electricity and has only a few portable toilets, but its numbers keep growing.

Members of St. Stephen's Human Services, Natives Against Heroin and other community organizations tried to alleviate some of the issues facing the camp's residents. They walked among the tents, handing out food and cleaning supplies and filling out housing assessments.

Sergeant Grant Snyder.
Srgt. Grant Snyder, an officer with the Homeless & Vulnerable Populations Initiative in Minneapolis hands out food to the people at the encampment.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

"The people there are working together collectively. They're creating a space that is well-maintained as best as possible, being free of trash," said John Tribbett, street outreach manager for St. Stephen's.

Tribbett also said that a shortage of affordable housing is leading to the steady increase of people on the streets. Many of the people living at the camp also say that the requirements for housing are too strict, and the rent is too high.

Correction (Jan. 8, 2019): An earlier version of this story misidentified Todd Weldon in a photo caption.

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