A woman was found dead Friday night at Minneapolis’ navigation center, the heated tents near the Franklin Avenue light-rail station that shelter homeless people as they move toward permanent housing.
This is the second death at the center since it opened in December. Todd Weldon, 47, overdosed and died there in early January.
The woman apparently overdosed on heroin and then fell behind a bed where staff didn’t immediately see her, said Maren Hardy, a navigator with the American Indian Community Development Corp.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Hardy said Sunday, adding that more money is needed at the center to hire additional staff.
Hardy, who helps connect those at the center with housing services, said the woman was in her 40s with two teenage sons.
Many more people have overdosed and been resuscitated while staying at the temporary shelter, she said. “ODs [overdoses] are happening all the time, and that’s the sad truth,” said Hardy.It would be impossible to track how often people there overdose, she said, because residents don’t always call 911. But it occurs daily, she said.
Hardy said her main goal for the residents is securing permanent housing and, ultimately, sobriety.
Hardy said that a spirit fire was started outside the center immediately after the woman, who was American Indian, was found dead. The four-day fire is a traditional native ceremony that honors a person who has died.
Simpson Housing, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit running the navigation center, confirmed Sunday that the woman had died and was found in the sleeping area. The statement from Simpson did not say what caused her death. About 130 people are staying in the tents, officials said.
In December, the navigation center — actually three large, heated tents — replaced an outdoor homeless encampment on Franklin and Hiawatha avenues that had sprung up months before. The goal of the center is to link residents with services and support as they transition to more permanent housing.
At least four people died at that homeless encampment.