Council Member Jeremy Schroeder: Ward 11 Update

Ward 11 Neighbors,

Below you’ll find the latest updates on key issues like COVID-19, public safety, and more. As always, you are always welcome to get in touch with me directly about issues that matter to you. The best way to reach me is by email at jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov or by calling 612-673-2211.

If you have immediate questions about City services like garbage pick-up, potholes, parking violations, and more, please call 311 or use these online reporting tools for the most efficient service.


2021 Budget Process Begins

Mayor Jacob Frey on Friday delivered his 2021 budget address, outlining his preliminary plans for next year’s investments. You can watch the full speech here. The City Council – and the public – will get more specific details on Mayor Frey’s proposed budget in the coming weeks, which I will share when they become available. Visit the City’s budget webpages to learn more about the budget process, key dates, FAQs and more. You can also watch a series of videos on the City’s budget process.

Given the ongoing economic crisis due to COVID-19, this will be another difficult budget process. Over this summer, the City Council passed an amended 2020 budget to help offset significant revenue shortfalls incurred as a result of the pandemic. The City Council will review the mayor’s recommended budget, hold a series of budget presentations in September and October, and vote on adopting the budget in December. Our process will include public hearings as well. The Board of Estimate and Taxation will also hold a public hearing in September to set the maximum property levy.


Gov. Walz Extends COVID-19 Emergency Through Sept. 11

Following guidance from public health experts, advocates for seniors, labor leaders, medical professionals, and long-term care providers, Gov. Tim Walz last week signed an executive order extending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency through Sept. 11, giving the state continued flexibility to respond to rapidly-evolving issues stemming from COVID-19.

The president’s COVID-19 national emergency remains in effect, and states of emergency are in place in all 50 states. Minnesota’s peacetime emergency protects Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment, provides expedited procurement power for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment, allows Minnesota to re-open society strategically while following the advice of public health experts, protects workers from unsafe worker conditions, requires Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and provides economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic. If Minnesota’s peacetime emergency were to end, it would jeopardize over $50 million each month in federal funding.


Tracking COVID-19 in Our Community

Five months after Gov. Walz first declared an emergency, COVID-19 cases and deaths continue in Minnesota. To see regularly updated local data, including the number of Minneapolis cases and a breakdown by neighborhood, check out the City’s interactive COVID-19 dashboard. It is critically important that we all continue to do everything possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Our actions so far have helped, but this pandemic is far from over and we need to keep it up. Steps we can all take every day to keep ourselves and each other safe include:

  • Wear masks when in public. Up to 50% of virus carriers are asymptomatic, so they don’t even know they’re sick. Wearing masks helps control the virus and has been shown to lower COVID-19 spread.
  • Avoid enclosed spaces with groups of people, where the virus can linger in the air for long periods of time.
  • Get tested if you have cold or flu-like symptomsFind testing locations.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others not in your household.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth – with unwashed hands.
  • Do not go to “COVID parties.” Young adults face a real risk of significant illness and complications. They can also pass the virus along to family members and other people in the community.

The City is still coordinating homemade mask donations. People can deliver homemade masks to any Minneapolis fire station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday. Our Health Department continues to get requests from the community for help securing masks and these donations make a big difference in meeting those needs.


Free COVID-19 Testing on Aug. 25

Minneapolis is offering another free COVID-19 testing event next Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at McKnight Early Childhood Family Development Center (4225 Third Ave S). Tests are available to people arriving on foot or by car, and all are welcome. Hmong, Somali, and Spanish interpreters will be on site to help anyone who needs it. Folks can expect to get their test results in about two days. The test is free, and you do not need insurance for the test.

If you are unable to attend this testing events, use this state directory to find a testing location near you. Additionally, if you need medical care but don’t have health insurance, the Minnesota Department of Health offers resources to find low-cost health care or health insurance.


Walz Extends Eviction Ban; Housing Assistance Available

The governor’s latest extension of the peacetime emergency means that the suspension of evictions and landlord-initiated lease terminations remains in place until Sept. 11. This suspension will allow households to remain sheltered during the peacetime emergency, however tenants are still obligated to pay rent during this time. Landlords may evict tenants in certain situations, including if the tenant endangers the safety of others, engages in certain illegal activities, or significantly damages property. Under the governor’s order, evictions can also proceed if the property owner or their family member needs to move into the rental unit.

Hennepin County continues to offer assistance to residents that can be used to cover this month’s rent or past-due rent from previous months. Priority will be given to households with the lowest incomes and those not eligible for unemployment insurance. Learn more, see if you qualify, and apply for assistance here. If you do not have internet access or cannot complete the form in English call 612-302-3160.

Help is also available for homeowners struggling to meet mortgage obligations. Free assistance is available through the Minnesota Homeownership Center, which has a network of advisors who can help you understand how to prevent foreclosure and find resources to help during this challenging time. Learn more and find an advisor here.

Finally, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on household budgets, both local utility companies – Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy – have suspended shutoffs for nonpayment until further notice. Both companies are working with customers to provide help where possible. Arrange a payment plan by contacting Xcel Energy at 800-895-4999 and/or CenterPoint Energy at 800-245-2377.


Ongoing Efforts to Address Homelessness

I continue to hear from many neighbors concerned about the unprecedented uptick in homelessness that we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City continues to work with partners in other jurisdictions – including Hennepin County, the Park Board, and the State – to address this crisis. Most notably, the City this month approved a roughly $8 million funding package to expand shelter space for those experiencing homelessness. Find more information on the City’s ongoing efforts here. The Park Board, not the City, has oversight of our parks and has implemented a new permit process that allows up to 20 parks to hold temporary encampments with up to 25 tents each. See details on the Park Board’s actions and process here.


Record Turnout in Last Week’s Primary Election

More Minneapolis voters cast their ballots in this year’s primary than any other primary election in more than 50 years! In total, 130,888 ballots were cast in person or by mail – with 65% cast early. The only year with primary voting totals that come close to that is 1968, when 101,266 Minneapolis voters cast ballots. This is huge news, and I’m proud of our community and voters citywide for showing up to be heard at the polls. We should all extend our thanks as well to the hardworking Elections & Voter Services staff here at the City who ensure we can all vote safely and efficiently – even during a global pandemic.

It’s not too early to start preparing for the Nov. 3 general election. Start by checking your voter registration here. Public health officials continue to encourage voting by mail to help limit crowding at polling places, and I encourage you to take a couple minutes to request your mail-in ballot for the general election today. By doing so, you’ll receive your ballot several weeks before Election Day – giving you ample time to send it back or drop it off at our Early Vote Center. It comes with a postage-paid envelope to return it and an I Voted sticker. More than 7,100 Ward 11 residents – including me — voted by mail in the primary. It’s easy, quick, and helps keep our neighbors and election works safe as we deal with COVID-19. Find more information on voting by mail here.


City Pushes State to Divest from Fossil Fuels

The City Council passed a resolution I co-authored urging state officials to fully divest public employees’ pension funds from fossil fuel interests that not only contribute to our climate crisis but underperform other types of less-volatile investments. The State Board of Investment is responsible for investment management of retirement funds, including those of current and former City employees. Our resolution calls for the divestment process to begin this year, a move which would help to protect public workers’ retirement savings from risk and volatility. The City last year declared a Climate Emergency, and it is our responsibility to take climate action where can and push others to do the same. I am hopeful that the leaders who oversee the Board of Investment – including Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, State Auditor Julie Blaha, and Secretary of State Steve Simon – will accelerate divestment efforts at the state level.


Learn About the History of Interstate 35W

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is hosting an interactive virtual event this Wednesday, Aug. 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. where you can learn about the history of Interstate 35W. This event – hosted in partnership with the Hennepin History Museum and the University of Minnesota – will highlight opposition to the freeway, its impacts on communities of color, and concerns over equity and environmental justice. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and share their own perspectives and stories. Learn more about the event and see how to participate here.

To stay up to date on MnDOT’s current 35W reconstruction project, visit the project website.


Trans Equity Summit Goes Virtual

The City is hosting its seventh-annual Trans Equity Summit between Sept. 13 and 15, and this year it will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme is “Claiming Our Power for Change: Caring for Community.” Programming includes breakout sessions, performances, a job and resource fair, and healing justice offerings. The summit is free and open to the public, and interested in furthering trans equity is encouraged to attend. Find more details and register here.


Tips to Make Your Produce Last Longer

Did you know that as much as 40% of food in the U.S. goes to waste each year? About one-third of that is generated by people at home. Learning how to properly store fresh produce is one way you can help limit your household’s food waste. Especially as we enter peak growing season in our community, these tips from our Solid Waste & Recycling staff might come in handy:

  • Apples: store in the refrigerator; eat bruised ones first and keep them away from non-bruised apples; for longer storage, put them in a cardboard box covered with a damp towel
  • Berries: store in an airtight container, unwashed in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Carrots: cut off the tops to keep them fresher longer; store in the refrigerator in a container of water or unwashed in an airtight container in the crisper drawer with plenty of moisture
  • Celery: store in the refrigerator in a glass of water or in an airtight container
  • Cucumbers: store in the refrigerator in a glass of water, stalk down, or wrapped in a moist towel
  • Green beans: store unwashed in the refrigerator in an airtight container
  • Herbs: store in the refrigerator with stems down in water, except for basil, which should be stored on the counter in a glass of water; you can also chop and freeze herbs with olive oil in ice cube trays
  • Melons: store in a cool, dry place out of the sun; move to the refrigerator only when ripe
  • Tomatoes: store on the counter; if very ripe, move to refrigerator; store separately from other produce as they give of ethylene gas that can affect other items
  • Zucchini: wrap whole or cut ends in a damp cloth; keep in the refrigerator

Blood and Plasma Donations Still Needed

The Red Cross is still in need of blood donations. You can still safely donate blood during the COVID-19 pandemic and eligible donors can do so every eight weeks. You can find donation locations and make an appointment through the Red Cross here or Memorial Blood Centers here. All blood types are needed. The Red Cross is now screening all donations for COVID-19 antibodies, a key indicator of previous exposure to the virus. They will share those results with individual donors within a few days.

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. Use of this plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Red Cross is seeking folks who are fully recovered from COVID-19 to sign up to donate plasma to help current patientsFind more information on current blood and plasma needs here.


Virtual Community Conversation Next Week

I will host my next virtual Community Conversation next Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In keeping with guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, I will host this meeting via Skype. All Ward 11 community members are welcome to join online or by phone. In the interest of keeping this conversation as constructive and productive as possible (and to avoid frustrations with background noise) I will be taking questions via email and answering them on the call. If there are specific questions or topics you would like to discuss, please email them to jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov. You can send them in advance of Wednesday’s event or during it. We’ll get through as many as we can during our time together.

To participate, click this link during the meeting time on Thursday. Alternatively, you can join by calling 612-276-6670 and entering 170572097# as your conference ID.


Wash your hands and cover your face!

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please call 311 at 612-673-3000.

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