Number of those experiencing homelessness in Rochester grows at alarming rate

Number of those experiencing homelessness in Rochester grow at alarming rate.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The number of those experiencing homelessness in Rochester is growing rapidly, leaving many without a place to go.

Homeless shelter, The Landing MN doesn’t have enough space to accommodate the number of those experiencing homelessness, none of the shelters in Rochester do.

Some may have noticed more people camping out in abandoned parking lots, under bridges and in allies, but under a city ordinance its unlawful to camp on any public property, resulting in Rochester Police Department (RPD) encouraging people to move somewhere else.

RPD reports it is committed to treating people experiencing homelessness with compassion and respect, and encourages them to take advantage of available resources, however, there are not enough shelter beds in Rochester.

“Our numbers since the first of the year have almost doubled. We have seen a dramatic increase since in the number of those experiencing homelessness. We are averaging, last month, 95 unique individuals that have come into the day center everyday which correlated to 2,844 visits over the course of the month. Our age range is spreading, we’re a younger population and an older population,” co-founder of The Landing MN, Dan Fifield explained.

Fifield said there is a huge issue with how homelessness is currently handled in Rochester.

“You can’t camp in city parks for instance, city parks are closed after dark but again what are these individuals supposed to do? They can’t stay at the warming center, the warming center is overpopulated, they are turning people away. Where are they supposed to go? That’s my question. There are not enough shelter beds to take care of the population we are seeing,” Fifield stated.

Fifield also said the housing crisis in Rochester isn’t doing much help to ease the issue either.

We spoke with Mayor Kim Norton, who said she wants to be respectful to those experiencing homelessness, while also making sure to let them know they aren’t allowed to live in parks, or tent in city limits.

“We were saying we’re not going to have tent cities, and yeah, we are working really hard to provide services for those who need them.” Norton said. “And a lot of non-profits have started up. We have the landing, and Dorothy Day, and Salvation Army and the Warming Shelter and churches providing services as well so we are trying to make sure we have services for people in this community.”