St. Paul grapples with third encampment death this winter
January 21, 2021
St. Paul firefighters responding to a blaze at a homeless encampment Wednesday morning discovered one person injured and another dead among the debris - the third death of a homeless person in the capital city this winter.
City officials have spent months grappling with a spike in unsheltered homelessness and, citing risks of uncontrolled fires and exposure, are racing to close some of the largest encampments and relocate people into a new network of temporary shelters.
St. Paul Deputy Mayor Jaime Tincher said officials believe 179 people are now sleeping outdoors, down from a high of 380 last fall - a drop due, in part, to the city's work to move people into shelters, she said. The three deaths - one at Wednesday's fire and two likely connected to exposure - underscore the urgency of the ongoing work, Tincher said.