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New city ordinance closes Rochester skyways at midnight

It's estimated 20 to 40 people sleep in the skyways each night. The new ordinance will close the skyways from midnight to 5:30 a.m.

Posted: Nov 19, 2019 6:47 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's been a concern for more than a year, homeless people seeking shelter in the city's skyway system.

On Monday night, the city council approved a new ordinance that will close the skyways from midnight to 5:30 a.m.

While the new rule is causing concern for some, it's also creating an opportunity for police to connect people with services and resources.

It's estimated 20 to 40 people sleep in the skyways each night. Grantland Owens is one of them.

"My current situation is I'm living up in the skyway," Owens said. "So I kind of know what's going on up there."

A new survey done by the Corporation of Supportive Housing found there are 123 people in the community who are unsheltered.

"They say they're supposed to be making this a major city in the next 10 years," Owens said. "OK, how are you supposed to do that when you got people living up in the skyway?"

The city's new ordinance won't allow him or others to sleep up in the skyways overnight, but police say it's not an immediate eviction.

For the next few weeks, they will only enforce criminal activity before warming centers open. They'll also be connecting people with community resources. They're calling it 'compassionate enforcement.'

"This three-week push is really helpful to just let everyone know who's out there, and how can we remove barriers, and how do we get people in to supported housing or whatever their needs are and meet those needs," Police Capt. Jeff Stilwell said.

Stilwell hopes it will help, and Owens thinks it's a step in the right direction.

"I say it's a good start," Owens said, "but they should keep it going, keep pushing forward, just don't stop at that."

Police say no one will be kicked out of the skyway during closed hours if there's no warming center open or other place to go. Officers will also be handing out hand warmers on the really cold nights.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 452268

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin938131490
Ramsey40370746
Dakota33353349
Anoka31193366
Washington20363231
Stearns17995189
St. Louis13857245
Scott1209197
Wright11723106
Olmsted1068375
Sherburne825766
Carver700138
Clay655582
Rice618070
Kandiyohi556572
Blue Earth545933
Crow Wing487778
Otter Tail460967
Chisago456436
Benton422287
Winona393048
Douglas377266
Nobles373946
Mower370829
Goodhue352661
Polk330559
McLeod326747
Beltrami314048
Morrison313545
Lyon304138
Becker288039
Itasca286443
Isanti284242
Carlton282543
Steele278110
Pine269214
Freeborn251523
Todd232630
Nicollet227537
Brown216934
Mille Lacs214945
Le Sueur212816
Cass209424
Meeker200933
Waseca191916
Wabasha17343
Martin171426
Roseau166217
Hubbard150138
Redwood140827
Houston139714
Renville137940
Dodge13714
Chippewa132032
Cottonwood128418
Fillmore12576
Wadena120517
Rock111212
Aitkin109233
Sibley10917
Faribault108316
Watonwan10688
Pennington100716
Kanabec98818
Pipestone95923
Yellow Medicine94216
Murray9056
Jackson87110
Swift84318
Pope7435
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66015
Lac qui Parle65716
Wilkin6309
Koochiching60210
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4663
Unassigned43768
Grant4358
Norman4248
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3194
Traverse2583
Lake of the Woods1951
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309989

Reported Deaths: 4424
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46587464
Linn17979279
Scott15787171
Black Hawk14037243
Woodbury13093181
Johnson1224652
Dubuque11535159
Pottawattamie9111115
Dallas905972
Story877838
Webster471577
Cerro Gordo471472
Sioux459157
Clinton456167
Warren456139
Marshall429862
Buena Vista396130
Muscatine394978
Des Moines390043
Plymouth352470
Wapello348498
Jasper330159
Lee322632
Marion308152
Jones274250
Henry266131
Carroll258034
Bremer249348
Crawford233524
Boone222017
Washington222033
Benton212250
Mahaska197237
Jackson194331
Tama189959
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware175236
Clay171421
Wright166424
Fayette165024
Hamilton162030
Buchanan161624
Winneshiek159720
Harrison157962
Hardin156730
Cedar155419
Clayton153649
Butler150824
Page146315
Floyd140836
Cherokee139927
Mills138417
Lyon137333
Poweshiek134524
Hancock131424
Allamakee130230
Iowa127422
Calhoun12339
Madison123210
Grundy122128
Jefferson122025
Winnebago121529
Mitchell116637
Louisa115730
Cass114743
Chickasaw113512
Appanoose112040
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union110723
Humboldt106419
Shelby104727
Guthrie104024
Franklin103218
Unassigned10050
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88024
Keokuk86126
Howard85019
Monroe81919
Clarke8087
Pocahontas78111
Ida75830
Davis70021
Greene6977
Adair69520
Monona67118
Lucas66410
Osceola64611
Worth6154
Taylor5989
Fremont5246
Van Buren50115
Decatur4954
Ringgold44811
Audubon4208
Wayne41821
Adams2983
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