Police are urging the city to expand a 2014 City Council resolution prohibiting camping overnight in parks to all city-owned property. Some council members want a permanent camping spot for homeless residents while the city and county tackle an ongoing lack of housing and shelters.

All agree on one thing: There are no easy answers for how to handle the growing issue — for Rochester or other cities across the state.

"If there was we'd all be doing it," Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin told the council on Monday during a study session on the issue.

The number of homeless residents continues to grow in Rochester and Olmsted County. Rochester Public Schools reported about 640 students without permanent shelter this year, up from about 400 in 2022. The city's aging 45-bed Community Warming Center is at capacity, turning away two to three people on average each night. And about 15 to 20 evictions take place in Olmsted County each week.

Though resources are limited, housing officials say they try to connect people with services as much as possible. That doesn't mean those services help end homeless camps, though.

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