The Twin Cities Chapter of Campaign Against Racism (CAR) is a group that advocates for the health and well being of all residents of Minnesota, and understands the importance of safe and secure housing. As such, we are asking our elected officials to work on behalf of Minnesotans to coordinate resources to support and house unsheltered residents of Minneapolis.

In the days following George Floyd’s murder, the Phillips neighborhood, home to one of the city’s largest homeless encampments, became chaotic and violent. Those without housing were vulnerable to the pandemic, the protests, and the National Guard. Local grassroots organizers were able to secure the Sheraton Hotel as a sanctuary space that housed 200 homeless people during this time of crisis.

However, earlier this week, residents of Minneapolis were evicted from the Sanctuary Hotel and once again were forced to find a place to establish shelter on their own. This community of people is all too familiar with being displaced, being told they don’t belong, and being ignored by the systems that we ,as taxpayers, fund to address their needs.

Some individuals who were previously residing in the Sanctuary Hotel are now taking refuge in Powderhorn Park. The residents of Sanctuary sites across the city, and in the parks, deserve a safe and dignified place to stay. Along with the residents of the Sanctuary, we are calling on the Minneapolis Park Board and Superintendent to:

Recognize publicly that all of our Parks are Sanctuary and are safe places to provide a home to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Having a home during a global health crisis and during an escalating housing crisis is more pressing and moral use than recreation.

Publicly commit to opening parks, especially Powderhorn, to allow the Sanctuaries to stay where they are undisturbed, long-term.

Open and provide basic services like park bathrooms and provide hookups to electricity and water.

Give permission to other nonprofits and agencies at the city, county, and state to provide immediate needed resources to our neighbors and relatives like:

-Additional Porta Potties, including at least one ADA accessible at each site

-A City drinking water station connected to a City water source.

-At least one hand-sanitizing station at each sanctuary site

-One curbside trash dumpster on the street at each site with regular pickups to relieve pressure from the park system.

The need for action on homelessness throughout this city was severe even prior to the pandemic. Homelessness across the state has increased by 10 percent between 2015 and 2018. The pandemic and the subsequent economic collapse is now adding new burdens to our state’s longstanding housing issues, which could result in an even higher rate of homelessness, leaving even more families out on the street in the midst of a global pandemic. Housing is health and our history of racial capitalism has put black and indigenous communities at highest risk. The time to act and build sustainable housing solutions is NOW.

We seek for all residents of Minnesota the dignity of permanent housing, which should be afforded to all of us as humans and is the right of each individual. It is our expectation that elected officials no longer delay action to address the housing and shelter shortage in Minneapolis but act swiftly and with focus to coordinate resources to support the individuals living in Powderhorn Park and all those in Minneapolis who do not have a safe and secure place to sleep.

Sincerely,

Anisha Rimal MD

Nasreen Quadri, MD

Ruth Staus, DNP, MS, APRN

Jessica Hane, MD

Christopher Reif, MD, MPH

Aarti Bhatt, MD

Amy Finnegan MD, PhD

Ahmed Issa, MD

Mike Westerhaus, MD

Kristin Chu, Medical Student

John Bird, Premedical Student

Jennifer G. Hines, MD

Roli Dwivedi, MD

Madhuri Kasat Shors, MD MPH

The goal of Equal Health´s Campaign Against Racism is to dismantle structural racism @InequityKills @equalhealtheqh http://www.equalhealth.org/campaign-against-