Amy Forliti, AP
When a disturbed woman pulled a knife on Denise Deer earlier this month, she quickly herded her children into their tent. A nearby man stepped in and the woman was arrested, and within minutes, 8-year-old Shilo and 4-year-old Koda were back outside sitting on a sidewalk, playing with a train set and gobbling treats delivered by volunteers.
The sprawling homeless encampment just south of downtown Minneapolis isn’t where Deer wanted her family of six to be, but with nowhere else to go after her mother-in-law wouldn’t take them in, she sighed: “It’s a place.”
City leaders have been reluctant to break up what’s believed to be the largest homeless camp ever seen in Minneapolis, where the forbidding climate has typically discouraged large encampments seen elsewhere. But two deaths in recent weeks and concern about disease, drugs and the coming winter have ratcheted up pressure for a solution.