Greetings, Ward 11!
Things continue to evolve and change amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and with Governor Tim Walz’s recent announcement that schools will not reopen this school year, I’d like to share my appreciation for parents of school-age kids doing their best in this challenging time. It’s a huge responsibility to further their learning at home and keep up with everything else that needs to be done — most of it at home — as we adjust to this new normal. And to the essential workers grappling with new parenting challenges while keeping our shelves stocked, healthcare facilities running, and more: I appreciate all you do.
I’d also like to thank Ward 11 neighbors for taking the Stay At Home order seriously. I know that folks are getting restless, but we each need to continue to do our part to keep the community safe and healthy, and that means staying home whenever possible.
If you have questions or concerns, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-673-2211. Don’t be shy! Please get in touch if I can provide assistance. I also continue to provide real-time updates between newsletters on my official Twitter feed and my Facebook page.
Mayor Jacob Frey will deliver the annual State of the City address tomorrow (Wednesday, April 29) but it’ll be a little different than normal. Instead of giving his speech before an audience somewhere in the community, the mayor will instead record the address at City Hall with no audience tomorrow morning. Then, video of the address will at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow on Comcast channels 799 (HD) and 14 (SD) and it will also be streamed on City platforms (like the City’s Facebook page and the City’s YouTube channel). The video will also be made available after the initial broadcast in case you’d prefer to watch it at another time.
To better ensure the safety of those in and around parks, the Park Board announced it will modify or close more of its amenities in the coming days, though parks will remain open. These changes are designed to protect the health and safety of park visitors and our community and come after some visitors continue to congregate despite efforts to educate and encourage safe social distancing. Expect the following changes by this Friday, May 1:
The following measures, already in place, will remain in effect:
The Park Board will also post signage at picnic areas to limit social gatherings to 10 people or less. Disc golf areas will also get new signage that reflects social distancing guidelines, similar to signs that were posted recently at Park Board golf courses. For more information on the Park Board’s efforts to keep us safe during this pandemic, check out their COVID-19 website.
Governor Tim Walz last week extended the closure of school buildings through the remainder of this school year as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) will continue to provide resources to students and their families during this difficult time, as distance learning becomes our new normal. Make sure you are taking advantage of any resources that are helpful to you:
Distance learning will continue for MPS students. Additional information about the district’s distance learning efforts, changes, and policies is available here.
Additionally, families with students in school may be able to purchase significantly discounted Chromebooks for distance learning — up to 75% off the list price — through Minnesota Afterschool Advance. Learn more about the program and eligibility here.
Minneapolis Public Schools’ Community Education is offering dozens of activities for youth and families, including both scheduled interactive options as well as anytime activities that can be done when it’s most convenient for you. Activities are available for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and those in high school. There are also options that invite the whole family to participate together. Additionally, there is a long list of resources that can help your household during this time – this includes everything from food, housing, mental health, and literacy resources to fitness, life skills, STEAM, and animal activities for kids.
We now know you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you have no symptoms. Wearing a cloth face cover is meant to help protect other people in case you are infected and are not showing symptoms, and their cloth cover is meant to help protect you. With recommendations coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, and even requirements starting up in places such as New York, it’s a great time make your own face covers – and you can do so whether or not you sew. In fact, the CDC website has simple instructions for making homemade cloth masks with or without sewing.
Please make your own cloth mask instead of wearing medical-grade or surgical masks, which are badly needed in health care facilities to protect frontline workers. In addition, keep in mind that we should all continue to keep about six feet between ourselves and others. Covering your face is not a substitute for keeping a safe distance and staying home as much as possible. Still, everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. There are some exceptions – cloth face coverings shouldn’t be placed on kids younger than 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
A statewide homemade mask drive launched last weekend and Minneapolis fire stations will continue to accept masks through May 8. Donated masks will be delivered to Minneapolis residents at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and the community organizations that serve them. Please note that fire stations are not equipped to take any other donations at this time. Find your nearest fire station by entering your address here, and find designs and patterns for homemade masks at the bottom of this page.
Mayor Jacob Frey last week signed an emergency regulation that provides guidance for licensed congregate health care facilities in Minneapolis, including but not limited to skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities. The new rules limit entry into these establishments to staff and residents, first responders, medical professionals, and contracted essential maintenance workers and service providers. All staff must wear a face covering at all times while inside the facility. More than 90% of all COVID-19 deaths in Minneapolis have occurred in congregate care facilities. Information on all emergency regulations issued by Mayor Frey during this pandemic is available here.
The City received more than 7,800 applications for $3 million in emergency housing assistance allocated as part of our COVID-19 gap funding package. This is an astounding number of applications that exceeds the resources available and underscores the deep need in our community for state and federal support during this crisis.
More than 40 City staff have helped facilitate this application process in light of the immediate need, including by working over the weekend to return calls and assist residents with their applications. Staff are still returning calls received before the application deadline – those applications will be added to the total. Applicants should expect to hear back from the City next week about next steps, with the first payments anticipated to go out in early May then on an ongoing basis until all applications have been processed and all available funding is spent.
The amount of assistance provided will depend on the needs of each individual household. In most cases, assistance will be capped at $1,500 per household, but up to $2,000 may be provided under extraordinary circumstances. This funding may be used to cover rent payments, utility payments, and/or other costs related to housing stability. Payments will be made directly to the rental property owner, utility company, or the housing cost payee.
These funds both establish an emergency housing assistance program for citywide emergency rental assistance and open the successful existing Stable Homes Stable Schools initiative to all Minneapolis Public Schools elementary schools. This funding is part of the $5 million in local pandemic relief announced last month, which reallocates existing City funds and is designed to supplement state and federal resources for residents and business owners. You can find more information about the full funding package here.
Our local business community is strong and vibrant, but in need of help during this crisis. I continue to speak up, as I have at the last several City Council meetings, about the need for more expansive support for Ward 11 businesses struggling during this time. As a City, we continue to advocate at the state and federal level for the support our community needs to meet this challenge. The City simply can’t do it alone. We need leadership at every level of government – and resources to support the success and security of our businesses and workers – and I will continue to be a voice for Ward 11 during this crisis. The federal government recently approved new funding for two important programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which is a great and absolutely necessary next step. More information on these programs is included in the next section of this newsletter.
Here at the City, we have expanded the Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP), which provides free consulting support to small and medium-sized businesses in Minneapolis, a critical resource for Ward 11 businesses seeking help and guidance in navigating complex new relief and loan programs. Business owners in need can connect directly with our Small Business Team by emailing email@example.com or calling 612-673-2499. Ward 11 businesses will also be eligible for a limited number of loans through a modified program that will reduce the interest rate of the City’s existing 2% loan program for small businesses to 0% and expand eligible expenses to include working capital costs. More information is available under the “Revamped 2% Loan Program to 0%” tab here. Our Small Business Team can help business owners identify state and federal resources available to them.
Together, let’s keep doing what we can to make sure the small businesses that serve Ward 11 get through this difficult time. If you’re able, you can show your support with one of these new t-shirts. When you purchase one, you can send proceeds to the Nokomis-area business of your choice. Get more information and preorder yours here. I’ll take this opportunity as well to remind you of a few other helpful resources outlining ways to support our local businesses during this time, whether by ordering takeout or delivery, shopping online, or buying gift cards to use later:
The federal government recently approved new funding for small business relief, including two key programs: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). As of this week, the Paycheck Protection Program is now accepting new applications. Small business owners should speak with their lender today, or contact a participating lender in Minnesota. The Economic Injury Disaster Loans program has gotten additional funding as well, and will resume processing applications that are already in the queue on a first come, first-served basis. The Small Business Administration is not currently accepting new applications for this program.
Other resources for small business owners include:
For help navigating options, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-673-2499.
The City’s Health Department continues to connect those with capacity and resources to those with complementary needs. The City will not warehouse or store actual items; instead, our staff will help catalog what is available and what is needed, then help people on each side find each other. The City is managing donations of items other than personal protective equipment (PPE) which can be donated through Hennepin County (more information on that under the “Donations needed” tab here).
The best first step for folks interested in donating anything besides PPE, and folks who need items other than PPE, is to fill out the appropriate form (links below). From there, staff leading the COVID-19 response will do what they can to deploy resources and bridge gaps.
In addition, the City is open to accepting donations from private individuals or entities to specifically support gap funding for housing and small businesses. Donors may direct their donations to be spent in a way that’s consistent with existing program guidelines, but it would be up to the City to allocate the funds. Please contact the City if you are interested in donating.
The City continues to push for Minneapolis residents and business owners at the state and federal levels – we need their help to meet the growing needs of our community. Currently, the state offers special assistance and programs during this unprecedented crisis, which is affecting our community in many ways. Resources are available to support our health and wellbeing, ensure residents can stay safe and healthy in their homes, to lift up small businesses, and help affected workers. Please use these tools and share them with anyone who can benefit from them.
You can find links to these resources and others on the state’s COVID-19 website.
A friendly reminder that it’s important to continue to keep six feet of distance between yourself and others, and that we should use our neighborhood sidewalks and parks whenever possible to avoid contributing to large gatherings at popular locations citywide. Outdoor recreation including walks and bike rides are allowed under our current Stay At Home order, and the City is making additional updates to the public right-of-way to keep everyone safer as they venture outside.
First, Public Works has transitioned traffic signals to reduce the need for pedestrians to push the button at more than 400 signalized intersections. Crews are placing signs on the signal post notifying people that the signal will change automatically. For blind and visually impaired people, the button will still be operational in order to call the audible features.
In addition, starting this Wednesday the City will implement 11 miles of Stay Healthy Streets routes to support more space for walking, biking, and rolling while social distancing. Three separate loop routes will mostly follow local residential streets, and these streets will generally be closed to thru traffic and calmed to allow for people to safely walk, bike, or roll in the street. Car access for residents will be retained. Additional details on Stay Healthy Streets are available on the City’s website. Each of these routes is north of Ward 11, however a portion of Nokomis Parkway remains open for people to walk, bike, and roll in our neck of the woods. The City will continue to monitor and adjust street installations.
Aside from those pedestrian improvements, Public Works has issued permits for and installed more than 50 pick-up only zones for businesses. The pick-up zones allow parking for up to 10 minutes for people picking up take-out food or other items, a critical need as more businesses transition their businesses to online orders and curbside pickup.
Meanwhile, in addition to the changes in response to the pandemic, the City continues to roll out new speed limits signs citywide after Minneapolis and Saint Paul last month jointly announced lower speed limits to support safer streets. New speed limits are 20 mph for local residential streets; 25 mph for larger, arterial city-owned streets; and 30-plus mph for a few city-owned streets. Per Minnesota law, cities do not have the authority to change speed limits on county and MnDOT roads.
The 25 mph speed limit on individual streets will go into effect as soon as signs are posted on them. Once the busier streets are signed, the cities will then install “gateway signs” at entry points in both cities, indicating the citywide speed limit is 20 mph unless otherwise posted. The 20 mph speed limit goes in to effect as soon as the gateway signs are installed. The cities expect the sign installation to be completed by this fall. Follow along on our progress here.
The City is hosting two more online open houses to get your input on the draft Transportation Action Plan before the comment period ends May 22. This 10-year plan will guide future planning, design and implementation of transportation projects for all people in all the ways they move around. Join staff to hear about the plan and offer your input in real time. Learn more and review the draft document on the interactive Transportation Action Plan website. Upcoming open houses will be held:
Take this survey by May 31 to help guide the City’s violence prevention priorities in the coming years. It only takes a few minutes to share your thoughts on what forms of violence are most pressing in our community. Knowing violence affects different communities in different ways, and given our limited resources, the City needs community members’ feedback to develop a citywide approach to addressing violence in a new strategic plan. You can get a survey in an alternative format or language other than English by emailing email@example.com.
This Friday, May 1 is the deadline for Minneapolis property owners to order a 3- to 8-foot tree for just $25 through the City Trees program. There are 22 varieties of trees available this year, including large species, flowering trees, and several kinds of fruit trees. Comparable trees cost about $125 at a nursery. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis and there is a limit of one tree per address. Reserve yours today and plan to pick it up May 16, 17, or 18 at the City of Minneapolis Impound Lot. Volunteers will be on site to help load each new tree and a complimentary bag of mulch into vehicles.
We’re staying home to protect each other’s health, and there are things we can do right from home that support sustainability as well. Each of our actions coupled with our neighbors’ actions really add up – and our efforts to reduce waste, cut fossil fuel consumption, and support climate action are more important than ever. Here are some ways you can help from the comfort of your home:
President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation that took effect last week suspending some immigration to the U.S. This proclamation prevents some people from entering the United States as lawful permanent residents. People who are not impacted by this proclamation include:
The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota will host Facebook Live events in multiple languages on Wednesday April 29 to share more details. Find information on these events here.
First responders regularly call Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) to remove pets from homes when their owner is hospitalized and there is no one to care for them. During this pandemic, pets will sadly be victims of this crisis as their family members fall ill and need hospitalization. MACC is limited in how many animals can be cared for at the shelter and for how long they can stay. It is more important than ever for owners to designate a caretaker in case they become unable to care for their pets. More information is available here.
Squirrels and other critters can sometimes chew holes in garbage and recycling carts. If yours has been damaged and is in need of repair, contact Solid Waste & Recycling staff to get a cart serve crew out to make a fix. If it’s just the lid that’s damaged, they will replace it. If there is damage to the body of the cart, they will replace the entire cart. In addition, they can fix broken wheels. Please look closely at your container before requesting help so that you can get exactly what you need. To discourage damage from animals, fill a spray bottle with cayenne pepper, a dash of vegetable oil, dish soap, and water then spray the exterior of your cart. Spraying your cart weekly can help keep critters away.
If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the citywide COVID-19 newsletter (you can do so by entering your email address on this page). This is a great way to stay informed about the City’s COVID-19 response and resources available to Minneapolis residents and businesses. In addition to the newsletter, the City’s COVID-19 website is regularly updated with information and tools to help during this global pandemic.
Wash your hands, stay home, and stay safe!
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