Homeless camp demands government provide electricity, showers and kitchens

The homeless camp, known as the Nenookaasi Healing Camp, was evicted from its original location by the city of Minneapolis on Jan. 4.

The first encampment, which had occupied a city-owned lot since August, became a public safety and health hazard, the city said. (Hayley Feland)

Residents of a homeless camp are demanding the city of Minneapolis provide them with electricity, showers, and “kitchen infrastructure,” among many other services, in a newly released document.

“All levels of government must work with camp organizers and service providers to provide ongoing resources and coordination for sanitation, water, safety/security, electricity, heating and cooling, food/kitchen infrastructure, showers, laundry, waste management, healthcare, addiction treatment, recovery, and other social services,” say the demands, published Jan. 5.

The homeless camp, known as the Nenookaasi Healing Camp, was evicted from its original location by the city of Minneapolis on Jan. 4. Nenookaasi had been occupying a city-owned lot since August 2023.

Posts on X, formerly Twitter, announced that due to public pressure, the city had agreed to provide trash cans and collection to the camp along with porta-potties.

The encampment had been the site of multiple shootings, a homicide, and overdoses, according to Crime Watch Minneapolis, who also reported on a dead baby who was found at the camp last summer. The camp sued the city of Minneapolis prior to this month’s eviction, saying the mayor was “targeting his most vulnerable constituents.” Residents of the camp moved about three blocks during the eviction, and are now occupying a new, smaller lot at 26th Street and 14th Avenue South in Minneapolis.

The list of demands from Nenookaasi organizers also urges the city to “fully fund the purchase and ongoing operation of a Nenookaasi Cultural Healing Center,” presumably to house the more than 100 individuals who reside at the homeless camp.

Camp organizers want the proposed healing center to provide “onsite supportive and culturally-appropriate housing centered in Indigenous and traditional practices combined with a culturally-based healing center for cultural education with wrap-around services for trauma, substance use treatment, recovery, and mental health.”

“Shelters in their current forms often do not meet the needs for all individuals that are unsheltered. Temporary mats on the floor should not be considered or publicized by agencies as ‘beds,'” the document says, suggesting the city pay for hotel rooms for the encampment residents or repurpose unused schools as a temporary solution.

Additionally, the city needs to develop “overdose prevention and safe use sites,” according to the document.

The demands then ask the city to repeal camping-ban laws. “People in need must be allowed to camp, find shelter at and live on Government-owned and open land, in Government-owned buildings and spaces, and in unused and available buildings,” organizers say.

“Stop fencing off every available public space that exists in our community. Every level of government must allow the freedom of movement and simple presence of people on our shared land and earth,” they add.

Encampment organizers assert in the document that the “corporate and private housing market” doesn’t work. “Democratic resident-controlled Public Housing and Community-owned and run housing must be centered as the core solution,” they write.

Organizers are also asking the public to send emails to government officials with the list of demands.

“Evictions have never been a solution, only a traumatic way to try to hide a growing problem in our State, push it out of sight, and move it around,” a form email states. “It is negligence when government leaves their responsibility to stretched community volunteer efforts of neighbors and supporters.”


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.