“It’s an untenable situation”; Deeper look into the homeless encampment situation in Rochester

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(ABC 6 News) – A body was found in Rochester Wednesday as city workers were clearing an encampment and it’s not the only one. In fact, as more encampments are dismantled across the city, frustrations are rising.

So far this year, the city has cleared about 20 of these encampments.

One of these is at the edge of Silver lake. Matthew Short lives there and he takes pride in his place

In fact, he says he spends a lot of time making sure that it looks its best. Yes, he is homeless, but this home and his stuff means everything to him.

“It hurts your heart when all of your stuff just disappears,” Short said.

People like Short say they are growing very frustrated.

“I mean it sucks. Like literally Parks and Rec took my tent down just down the road four days ago and everything I owned in it,” Short explained.

When encampments are cleared, these homeless individuals have to find somewhere else to go.

In Rochester, there are about 65 beds open every night throughout various homeless shelters.

In the month of may, the Landing MN saw more than 350 people in need.

“The math doesn’t work really out,” said Alex Hurlebaus, the Director of Human Services with the Landing MN. “It’s an untenable situation and it’s one that we really need to get some actual ideas on how to correct, how to fix.”

Paul Widman, the Director of the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department says that this issue is extremely complex.

“Sometimes we know there’s beds available and when we have folks camping in the parks. Sometimes it’s a matter that those shelters and those beds are full,” Widman explained.

Widman also pointed out that there are situations where an individual refuses to go to shelters like the Warming Center and the Dorothy Day House. Some homeless individuals have told ABC 6 News this is because they do not feel comfortable sharing a space with people that they do not know.

Widman also says that the city is doing more than people know and have created new policies to help address the issue.

“We’re giving 48 hours notice and allowing in that 48 hours for the agencies to find placement. If it doesn’t happen, we move the campers off-site and clear out any debris, any belongings they leave behind,” Widman explained.

People like Short, however, say when they’re moved off-site that they just have to find a new place to call home.

“I have till Monday to leave. [What happens next?] I find another spot,” Short said.

Short says that he’s just hoping someone will come up with a new solution that works for everyone.

City officials are meeting on June 12th, with non-profits like the Landing MN, to figure out what comes next.