On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council passed an $800 million plan to fix parks and potholes. Those in support of the measure argue that it will provide some much-needed cash to make essential repairs on park equipment and buildings.
As the weather improves, Minneapolis ought to use this legislation as an opportunity to address another key issue related to the infrastructure of our city’s parks — homelessness.
Homelessness remains a serious problem in our state, particularly among families and children. In 2013, a Wilder Research survey counted more than 10,000 Minnesotans living without shelter or basic necessities — 3,500 of them were children.
It’s no secret that homeless people sometimes sleep outside in parks when the weather is warm enough. However, rather than accepting this as an inevitable fact of life, the city should work to improve their situations.
We believe legislation to improve the infrastructure of park buildings should also work to build more homeless shelters near park properties.
Minneapolis should begin by acknowledging its homeless population and recognizing that some people end up sleeping in parks. It should then work to remedy this by improving current shelters and constructing new ones.
In the long term, the city ought to address the root causes of homelessness through job creation efforts and the promotion of other economic opportunities. However, shelters supply relief in the short term. Providing a roof over someone’s head in their time of need might be all it takes to give them hope.