Two Dead As People Leave Housing In Favor of Homeless Camp Near Cedar Riverside

The growing homeless encampment near Cedar Riverside along Hiawatha and Franklin avenue in Minneapolis has proven dangerous, as two people have now passed away at the encampment. The encampment has quadrupled in size over the past month, overwhelming the ability of the city to provide health and sanitation services to those who have taken residency there.

There are a variety of factors for the growth of the encampment, but one of them is the fact that people are leaving housing in order to take up residency at the camp because they mistakenly believed that living at the camp would be a faster route to free permanent housing.

Heroin and methamphetamine use is common at the encampment, as the second death at the camp was caused by a drug overdose. The victim, Wade Redmon, who was 20 years old, had a home, but left it to join the camp. The Star Tribune interviewed Wade’s mother:

“Wade had a family and a home, but struggled with a number of issues,” she said. “I am not quite ready to say more about that, but I can say that the camp draws many people who do have homes but may struggle with mental illness, drug addiction and other issues in their lives.

“It’s not just people without homes who migrate to it,” she said. “Many people go there for a variety of reasons related to their specific lives.”

City officials have tried to find suitable permanent housing for the homeless, but according to the Strib:

“Efforts to help people obtain stable housing have been complicated, because many camp residents have troubled rental histories, criminal records and addiction problems. Since mid-August, agencies have assessed about 100 residents, but only five individuals have actually been able to move out of the camp and into more permanent housing, according to Hennepin County.”

Advocates for more public housing have attempted to say the growing encampment is caused by a lack of affordable housing in the city. While rents have risen, housing costs are not the primary barrier to finding housing for the homeless.

The City of Minneapolis appears to be adopting the same failed strategies that have led to a boom in homeless populations in San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities on the west coast. The encampment is already a public health crisis, and it will be even moreso if winter comes early this year.