While the Minneapolis City Council prepared to hear a report Tuesday about the city's response to homeless encampments, occupants of a sprawling camp in the East Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis began packing after getting verbal warnings of imminent closure.

For 28-year-old Ivy Elliott and her partner, Julio Cerenio, 31, that meant rolling up the tent they had staked beside the eastbound on-ramp to Hwy. 55 for nearly two years.

"The people that are here, maybe they could just allow us to stay here until we are able to get into housing, and then we'll all slowly just move out of here," Elliott said.

The camp at E. 24th Street and Cedar Avenue, on Minnesota Department of Transportation property, was the latest to resurge in the footprint of the Wall of Forgotten Natives encampment over the last five years. It has grown from a handful of tents to more than a dozen over the past two months and had an estimated 50 occupants at its height.

It was not closed Tuesday. But another Minneapolis encampment of fewer than 10 people, near Bassett Creek and Cedar Lake Road on city and railroad property, was closed after its occupants were notified Friday.

Volunteer Nicole Perez frequently visits the camp at 24th and Cedar, just on the other side of the sound wall from Little Earth of United Tribes where she lives. In East Phillips, chronic homelessness is tied to generational trauma and addiction, she said.

"People think a lot of people want to be out here," Perez said. "There's services to get them into treatment, outreach workers that take them to detox and this treatment center and that treatment center.

"What people don't realize is that addiction is a lonely place. ... On top of that, a lot of people have burned bridges, and so it's like they don't have family."

Elliott and Cerenio said they were used to moving from one encampment to another. Despite harsh winters, they've avoided emergency shelters because they want to stay together and they chafe under the rules that shelters impose. They said they have a caseworker through Hennepin County who is trying to find them an apartment they can hold down.

Cerenio said they may try to move across the street to East Phillips Park. If they got kicked out there, they would try to reconvene with their former neighbors from 24th and Cedar elsewhere in the area in hopes that the number of residents would forestall the next closure.

Report on encampments

Meanwhile at City Hall on Tuesday, a cross-departmental team of city officials made a presentation on overall encampment strategies and the costs of closing them, in response to questions the City Council asked in November.

Regulatory Services Director Saray Garnett-Hochuli showed photos from recently closed encampments, including stockpiles of bikes and propane tanks as well as three rifles confiscated from a heavily populated camp that formed at E. 28th Street and Bloomington Avenue last summer.

She said the city will not supply encampments with handwashing stations or other sanitation services because doing so conflicts with an ordinance prohibiting camps and "normalizes" camps.

"Encampments are a danger to people occupying them and the surrounding communities — whether from drugs and human trafficking, property damage, rodent infestation, defecation in public spaces, or used needles left on the sidewalks and in our parks," Garnett-Hochuli said. "Romanticizing homelessness encampments does not save lives, but a collaboration in the community can."

Enrique Velazquez, the city's director of Inspection Services, highlighted four encampments that have cost the city $40,000 to $256,000 to close, not counting financial impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, private business owners and homeowners who may be cited if they don't stop camps from spilling onto their properties.

Budget Director Amelia Cruver said the biggest variable in cost was the number of police officers needed, which Minneapolis Police Lt. Troy Carlson said depended on threats of potentially violent protests.

Garnett-Hochuli recommended moving the city's response from "reactive" enforcement to addressing the root causes of homelessness with the help of the Health Department, which recently got a new commissioner: Damōn Chaplin, former co-chair of the Greater New Bedford Opioid Task Force in New Bedford, Mass.

Some City Council members criticized Tuesday's report, grilling staffers for several hours about how closing encampments reduces homelessness and why the presentation didn't include the experiences of homeless people who have lost documentation and connections with housing caseworkers in the process of moving from one camp to another.

"I don't know a single person in the city who finds the conditions that we see in the encampments 'romantic,'" said Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, urging staff members not to evade accountability as Minneapolis residents ask about the effectiveness of the city's approach.

Council Member Robin Wonsley said the city's policies have not been humane.

"We've seen many city leaders defer responsibility to everyone else but themselves, and it's been very clear the public, housing organizations and unhoused residents themselves have asked this body to step in and stop brutal evictions that have shown to be completely ineffective in everything except traumatizing people," she said.

The departure of several council members eventually forced Committee of the Whole Chair Linea Palmisano to adjourn the meeting before its agenda could be completed.