The City of St. Cloud along with the Lincoln Center has moved the encampment from East St. Germain Street near the Veterans bridge to Lincoln Center property.  St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis joined me on WJON.  He indicates the Lincoln Center came to them to see if it would be allowed to locate the homeless encampment from the Veterans Bridge location to their property.  The Lincoln Center is a homeless shelter that was closed months ago due to not being up to code inside their building.  The Lincoln Center still hasn't finished the renovations inside their building and isn't currently up to code but the homeless will not be using the inside of the building with the exception of the bathroom and shower.  Mayor Kleis says the homeless at the encampment, with an escort, can go into the building to use the bathroom and shower but cannot go to other locations in the building.

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homeless encampment fence at Lincoln Center (photo - Jay Caldwell)
homeless encampment fence at Lincoln Center (photo - Jay Caldwell)

The city requires the Lincoln Center to be staffed 24/7 to support the encampment.  St. Cloud Police has set up numerous camera units surrounding the encampment to monitor the activity there.  Mayor Kleis indicates this isn't ideal and isn't a long term solution.  He explains the deadline to remove the encampment is November 1 or when the Lincoln Center completes their renovations and reaches the code the city has specified that would allow them to reopen.  Kleis says the Lincoln Center fully intends to reopen.

Kleis acknowledges the goal of the city it to get as many people into permanent housing and out of homelessness but does say moving the encampment into a fenced area with monitoring is an improvement from the encampments in parks and on other public land.  Kleis explains encampments can only be permitted when no other option is available to the person involved.  He says a lack of space at St. Cloud area homeless shelters is playing a role here.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Mayor Kleis it is available below.



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