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Minneapolis leaders push new directive to end encampment clearings

The legislative directive will go before the full council for a vote on Thursday.

MINNEAPOLIS — It'll be the first winter the Near North encampment — at the corner of Second and Fremont Avenues North — will sit blanketed in snow without a tent in sight. 

However, that doesn't mean the fight to end encampment clearings in Minneapolis is over. 

"The work continues on, fairly similar to how it is the rest of the year, except now we're showing up more consistently every single day," said Madi McLaughlin, an outreach program manager with Avivo.  

Avivo is one of several local organizations working to assist those living in encampments all year long, but even more so during the winter months. 

“We’ve paired up with Agate, AICDC, and we’re also meeting with Southside Harm Reduction later this week to go out to camps," said McLaughlin. 

"We hand out hand warmers, blankets, hats, gloves, wool socks. This last week, we went down to one of the camps in south and handed out pallets to help folks get their tents up off the ground," McLaughlin added.

Those efforts moved one step closer to being backed by the city Tuesday as members of the city's Committee of the Whole voted to pass a revamped Legislative Directive regarding encampment clearings after Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the committee's last attempt citing errors in the way it was written. 

"He does agree with all of us that the public is going to benefit from the compilation of this information and more analysis and will help us to make informed decisions moving forward," said Council Vice President Linea Palmisano. 

Informed decisions, which for McLaughlin is critical to the work and success of her team. 

"The displacement of people can make our jobs more challenging. When clients are displaced, seeing that trust kind of have a falter, it affects the work that we do," said McLaughlin. 

The directive, written by councilmembers Jason Chavez and Aisha Chughtai, comes with several requests to include the city analyze forced encampment clearings, offer a solution with minimal police involvement, provide recommendations for those displaced in encampments, and have a fiscal analysis of associated costs. 

"It's a big deal that we've gotten to this place and hopefully we'll have all of your support," said Chughtai while addressing the committee. 

The committee voted 11-0 to pass the motion. 

The newly written legislative directive will go before the full council for a vote on Thursday.

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