Rochester homeless encampment begs answers from city leaders

[anvplayer video=”5171419″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Hundreds of people took to social media, calling out the city of Rochester saying that city leaders aren’t doing enough to support those struggling with homelessness.

They say it’s time that city leaders deal with a homeless encampment on the south side of Rochester and that the reason it exists is because of a lack of resources for community members.

The Facebook post has almost 500 likes and 300 comments, all calling on Rochester Mayor Kim Norton and Olmsted County Housing officials to help those struggling with homelessness in our area. They want the encampment removed, but Mayor Norton says there is not much anyone can do when they are on public property.

If you have driven down Broadway Ave. in Rochester in between Kohl’s and Walmart, you’ve seen Shannon Daun.

She has been staying on this sidewalk since last fall and says that it has been a struggle for years ever since she was evicted from her home.

“The real reason why I’m here is my house and my car were taken away and all of my belongings,” Daun explained. “There are periods in my life where I went hungry and only have a couple of days worth of clothes, no money.”

But more and more people in the city are frustrated with the growing encampment, and they say its time that city leaders do something about it.

“She’s been offered everything except permanent housing which we don’t have and the county is working on something but she has just refused everything,” Mayor Norton explained.

In a statement to ABC 6 News, the Rochester Police Department said:

“Community response to people experiencing homelessness can be complicated. RPD is committed to treating people experiencing homelessness with compassion and respect. We are focused on educating and encouraging people to take advantage of available services.”

Services like warming shelters and The Landing MN. These are places that city leaders say they fully support to help those struggling with homelessness.

“This is really difficult when you have people who don’t want to take the help that you’re offering and then it upsets people because they feel like nobody cares about her,” said Mayor Norton. “We do care about her and we’re worried about her but we can’t force her.”

But, Daun says the current options aren’t good enough for people struggling.

“I’ve been in a couple of shelters where you’re actually sharing a space and people like the help themselves to my belongings, I have that problem out here as well,” she said.

Now, the county and the city are trying to figure out what to do next to bring solutions for everyone impacted, especially people like Daun.

Mayor Norton says that she has been in contact with Olmsted County Housing officials. Together, they are working on possibly getting pop-up homes, similar to tiny houses, in the area so that people like Daun can stay safe and have their own space.

There is no word yet on when that would be.