Hiawatha encampment: Lessons learned from last year’s homeless tent city

This is the second in a series looking back at the 2018 homeless encampment along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues. Part 1 explored the reasons the camp formed when it did: Hiawatha encampment: Lessons in unintended consequences.

Photo of the encampment. (Hennepin County)

In August of 2018, a large homeless encampment — reaching 150 tents and more than 190 people — sprung up along Hiawatha and Franklin avenues in south Minneapolis. Most of those in the camp were Native Americans — and it was key that Native American led-organizations played a lead role in responding.

Patina Park, President and CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, recalled conversations about the camp in early August, 2018 with Mike Goze, CEO of the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC), Mary LaGarde, executive director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC),  Dr. Antony Stately, CEO of the Native American Community Clinic, and Robert Lilligren, President and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute.

They had concerns about the looming health care crisis, Park said. Hepatitis A was going around, and they were concerned about MRSA, too, an antibiotic-resistant infection. People were crowded together in the encampment and disease could spread quickly. One of the first things the group did was get fresh water to the camp by getting the city to hook up a water station at a fire hydrant.

Their work grew quickly. “I really learned the power of all of us coming together and just doing it,” Park said. Continue reading