Volunteers, City Crews Clean Up Homeless Encampment

DULUTH, Minn.– A massive cleanup effort is underway in Duluth from what’s left of a homeless camp there.

“We need a solution, we don’t have the housing right now, the numbers are higher than ever and I could foresee people just coming back to this spot,” said Chum Outreach Coordinator Deb Holman.

Last October, groups of people experiencing homelessness in Lincoln Park were evicted from a section of the hillside along Mesaba Avenue and West Superior Street because of health and safety reasons. The cleanup has not been easy but some Duluthians have stepped up to the challenge.

Volunteers and city crews were out Thursday afternoon along the hillside. Cleaning up all types of garbage left behind after people who are homeless were evicted from this area last fall.

The clean-up effort was organized in part by Reece Townsend who lives in Duluth. He decided to take action after seeing a picture on Facebook with a complaint about the blight.

“It’s kind of an eyesore every time you pass by here,” said Townsend.

With heavy equipment crews and additional help from the city of Duluth, they picked up containers, scrap metal, and used needles lying around the hillside. Organizers are expecting to pick up 30,000 pounds of garbage and 3,000 pounds of sheet metal from this area by the time they’re done this weekend.

“Where we’re standing now is probably six inches deep with garbage so we cleaned all of this,” said Townsend. “I mean it doesn’t look like much but it you looked at what it was before, you couldn’t tell that there was dirt underneath it.”

Holman is continuing her work to do more for people in need. She says it’s especially critical right now with demand continuing to grow at the city’s warming center and shelter, adding there isn’t enough affordable housing to meet the need in Duluth.

“This is great that it’s getting cleaned up today but we’re facing the same problems as the warming center closed last night, tonight, people are moving out in tents and we’re seeing numbers higher than ever so what are we going to do as a city,” said Holman.

Crews will be out again on Friday and Saturday and organizers are encouraging more volunteers to come help.

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