City of St. Cloud Working to Address Encampment Issues
A number of homeless encampments have popped in on various public locations in the city of St. Cloud recently. St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis joined me on WJON to address the issue. A WJON listener expressed concern about an encampment on the east side of the St. Germain bridge in St. Cloud. Mayor Kleis says the city certainly doesn't want any encampments. He says a Federal court ruling in 2019 indicated if a person is experiencing homelessness and they have no place to go, like a shelter, they can sleep in a public place. Kleis explains there are some caveats accounting for safety and prohibits encampments on private land.
The City of St. Cloud doesn't own a homeless shelter or provide social services. Kleis doesn't support the city owning or operating one in the future due to costs that would make it more difficult for the city to provide proper roads, public safety and infrastructure. He says counties offer social services to those in need.
Mayor Kleis explains the city has been working with those who provide shelter to homeless individuals like the Salvation Army, Place of Hope and Dallas Place. He says if Police where to arrest these people, put them in jail, they'd be arraigned by a court and next day they'd be out. Kleis says a judge isn't going to put someone in jail for vagrancy.
Kleis says the goal for the city is to get everyone into permanent housing. He says the challenge is to get as many people as possible out of the crowded shelters in town and into housing to open beds in shelters for those who are living on the streets. Kleis feels some homeless individuals struggle with chemical addictions and mental health challenges that contribute to their homelessness. He says the majority of St. Cloud's homeless population are from this community.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Mayor Kleis it is available below.