New zoning laws benefit homeless

by Daily Editorial Board

The Minneapolis City Council recently voted unanimously to revise zoning laws to allow homeless shelters in more parts of the city. Currently, the city only permits homeless shelters connected to religious institutions or located downtown.  
Councilmembers Lisa Bender and Cam Gordon, who originally proposed amending the city’s zoning laws last year, said the current laws saddle religious institutions and the few neighborhoods that house existing shelters with heavy responsibilities. 
New zoning rules that allow for shelters in other parts of the city would provide more resources for many homeless people throughout Minneapolis, without continuing to concentrate shelters in particular neighborhoods. The proposed zoning ordinance dictates that new homeless shelters must be built at least 1,000 feet from each other.
Additionally, these new rules allow more shelters to be built that could house those who feel uncomfortable seeking support from religious institutions. 
As Minneapolis continues to struggle with a large homeless population, we commend the City Council for taking action and discontinuing zoning laws that insidiously perpetuate “not in my backyard” thinking. 
We appreciate that the proposed zoning policies aim to be inclusive as possible by removing mandatory religious ties and accounting for homeless populations in all parts of the city, not just downtown. The fact that these new zoning laws were developed after meetings with homeless people is also praiseworthy. We believe public policy works best when it includes input from the people it actually affects, and we hope future City Council decisions incorporate this inclusivity.