Rochester PD: Current Homeless Encampment Policy is Unsustainable
Earlier this summer Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin proposed the city council implement a no camping rule in city parks.
While acknowledging there’s not a “magical solution” to combat homelessness, Franklin said during the June listening session “I do believe and I do support a no camping ordinance alongside a robust offering of services and resources is an approach this city should try.”
During a study session held on Wednesday, councilmembers reviewed a presentation that included an update from the police department regarding homeless encampments. The presentation called the current process ineffective and unsustainable and reported an uptick in hostility towards law enforcement from a small group of Rochester’s unsheltered residents.
RPD also proposed an alternative approach to take for the next warm-weather encampment season. The proposed changes include additional enforcement tools regarding camping in public spaces as well as bans on camping within city limits and panhandling within the downtown business district.
RPD is also proposing a partnership with individuals who have experienced homelessness in the past to reach out and educate individuals they say are resistant to using services and shelters being offered to them.
Wednesday’s presentation to the council also included an updated homeless count. The findings from the Olmsted County Housing Sustainability Team found unsheltered residents increased from 55 last year to 174 this year.
City Councilmembers were also informed that the Rochester Warming Center has had to turn away an average of 1-2 people per night since November and that the waiting list for the Family Promise Shelter is 15 families long.