Minneapolis Park Board Deems City Parks ‘Refuge Space’ for the Homeless


Under a resolution passed this week, Minneapolis leaders said they will allow the city’s homeless population to seek “refuge” in public parks.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) approved the resolution during a Wednesday meeting. According to a press release, the resolution “allows those currently experiencing homelessness to seek refuge on Minneapolis parkland,” and requests assistance from federal and state agencies in finding a permanent housing solution.

The resolution notes that the Minneapolis park system has seen a “tremendous influx” of homeless people in recent days. In Powderhorn Park, for instance, individuals have set up a 200-tent homeless encampment.

“The MPRB is committed to providing people currently experiencing homelessness refuge space in Minneapolis parks,” states the resolution. “The MPRB will continue to work with agency partners to identify housing solutions for those individuals at the Powderhorn Park encampment and throughout the city.”

An executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz states that homeless encampments “should not be subject to sweeps or disbandment by state or local governments” for the duration of his COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration.

If an encampment has reached a “size or status that is a documented threat to health, safety, or security of residents, state or local governments may restrict, limit, or close encampment spaces,” the order says.

The MPRB said the governor’s executive order “prevents the removal of homeless people from locations except in certain specific cases subject to certain specific requirements.”

In ordinary circumstances, people can’t stay in Minneapolis parks overnight and need a permit to set up a tent.

“Homelessness in Minnesota is a crisis.” Park Board President Jono Cowgill said in a statement. “We realize that this is not a permanent solution, so we are asking the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and State of Minnesota to step up and find a sustainable, dignified housing solution for folks who are experiencing homelessness right now. In the meantime, we are not going to push people out of public spaces when they have nowhere else to go.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “MPRB Meeting” by MPRB.







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