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Groups lay out four steps for city to help homeless

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DULUTH, MN-- As temperatures drop, there's a growing push for Duluth city leaders to do more to help the homeless community.

City Hall became a homeless camp Monday night, as advocates voiced their concerns about this growing issue.

Sid Perrault with the American Indian Movement of the Twin Ports said the city needs to do more.

"We want the council and the Mayor to work with us to give us support for the homeless. We are doing all we can. We need to work together as a team," said Perrault.

They are calling for the city to commit to four steps: ending evictions of homeless camps, more 24-hour warming centers, increased access to hygiene facilities, and a multi-million dollar annual investment in supportive and low-incoming housing.

Shelly Bruecken with Loaves and Fishes wants to raise awareness, before the problem grows even worse.

"Instead of trying to push people away we want to make it more visible and more real that people are living in tents and we want this to be very well-known to the city and the county and to all of Duluth," said Bruecken.

As the winter chill sets in, activists say the city needs to act now, taking steps to help people sleeping outside tonight.

"Some actionable steps for people that are sleeping outside right now and plans for the future that are going to be continued to care about our most vulnerable neighbors," said Bruecken.

The groups accepted donations of tents, sleeping bags, coats, and other winter accessories to keep people safe in cold temperatures.

City Council President Gary Anderson said in a statement, "Duluth is a community which- like many others, continues to struggle with our response to the need for long term, permanent housing for all of our residents. In the midst of the struggle- members of the City Council recognize the need to do more to address the needs of everyone for safe, affordable housing. We are fortunate for partnership with St. Louis County, CHUM and the broader community as we do our best to address those in the most challenging circumstances. In the absence of permanent housing for all- the City Council recognizes the need for additional emergency 24 hour 7-day shelter as well as hygiene facilities. Housing and hygiene availability are basic human rights- we are all accountable for these needs."

Just last week the city announced the warming center at City Center West will be open on any night this winter when it's 32 degrees or below. They also have the CHUM shelter which is open every night.

Ryan Compeau

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