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 to email or call 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.

Public Safety Updates

More unrest in our city last week again revealed the trauma and distrust tied to our current public safety system. This underscores the need for us to build a public safety system that works for everyone and keeps us all safe – no matter where in Minneapolis we are, and no matter who we are.

I continue to hear from Ward 11 neighbors about their crime and safety concerns, and as always, I routinely share them with MPD leadership. It is important we get a clear understanding of how our tax dollars are being used to address immediate public safety issues and bigger-picture needs, like stronger partnership between the MPD and the Office of Violence Prevention. At last week’s City Council meeting I again asked for details on how the MPD is meeting the needs of residents and business owners in our community. MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo gave some examples in a presentation last month, but I am still waiting on specific answers.  I will request these details on your behalf until I get them. You can watch the most recent City Council meeting here.

Recognizing the need for ongoing attention to this issue, a City Council study session on public safety is being organized now. A study session is a City Council meeting focused on one particular topic, where Council members have the opportunity to get in-depth information and ask questions. At this forthcoming study session, likely to be held this month, my colleagues and I will hear from MPD leadership. I will share information about how you can tune in when meeting details are finalized.

New City Council Structure Includes 5 Committees

The City Council continues to update its committees and schedule to respond to changing needs during the local public health emergency. Beginning the week of Sept. 7, the two-week City Council cycles will consist of five standing committee meetings and the regular meeting of the full City Council.

I will serve as Vice Chair of the Business, Inspections, Housing & Zoning Committee and will sit on the Audit Committee, Budget Committee, and Policy & Government Oversight Committee. Other standing committees include the Public Health & Public Safety Committee and the Transportation & Public Works Committee.

The full City Council will continue to meet at 9:30 a.m. every other Friday. We have had to be nimble to ensure we can get the City’s business done during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed significant constraints on our ability to meet in person, operate as normal across City departments, and more. You can find dates, times, and agendas of upcoming meetings here.

COVID-19 Resources for Households

It is the first of the month, which means bills come due for households across our community. As COVID-19 puts additional strain on families and individuals, there are resources available to help.

State Housing Assistance Program

Minnesota’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program has opened to cover housing expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities or other housing-related costs. This program will help keep folks in their homes and maintain housing stability for eligible renters and homeowners in communities across the state.

People in Minnesota interested in applying for assistance can call the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 211 Resource Helpline at 651-291-0211, text “MNRENT” or “MNHOME” to 898-211, or apply online here. The 211 Helpline has dedicated multilingual staff to answer questions about the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For questions regarding the application process, review COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program frequently asked questions.

Rental Assistance from Hennepin County

Hennepin County continues to offer assistance to residents in need that can be used to cover this month’s rent or past-due rent from previous months. To qualify you must:

  • Rent anywhere in Hennepin County.
  • Have had household income below 50% of the area median income (about $46,550 for a three-person household) before COVID-19.
  • Lost income due to COVID-19 that has not been replaced by unemployment insurance or other emergency assistance.
  • Can’t afford housing costs this month.
  • Not currently receive Section 8 or other rental assistance.

Priority will be given to households with the lowest incomes and those not eligible for unemployment insurance. Learn more and apply for assistance here. If you do not have internet access or cannot complete the form in English call 612-302-3160.

Foreclosure Prevention Resources

The COVID-19 crisis continues to pose significant challenges for many in our community. If you or someone you know is struggling to meet your mortgage obligations, free assistance is available through the Minnesota Homeownership Center. A network of advisors can help you understand how to prevent foreclosure and connect you with resources to help during this challenging time. Learn more and find an advisor here.

Utility Bill Payment Options During COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on household budgets, both of our local utility providers — Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy — have suspended shutoffs for non-payment until further notice. In addition, 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.

City Recovery Efforts Supporting Local Businesses

As these unprecedented times test our resilience, staff across the City are working on strategic resources to begin the long path toward recovery. Since the start of the pandemic, the City’s economic development team has helped our business community start to recover through expertise, funding and adapting processes.

Overall, the City’s economic development team has connected with more than 2,000 businesses, provided more than 3,000 hours of direct customer assistance directly or through service contracts, changed licensing and regulatory processes to save businesses $1.4 million, and helped business access more than $3 billion in funding since the start of the pandemic. Some highlights of our work:

Lending Expertise

  • The Small Business Team has fielded 650 calls since the beginning of April to connect businesses to resources. The team has reached out to cultural malls and damaged commercial areas and done research as part of establishing the Small Business Administration’s disaster declaration.
  • Increased resources to community-based partners and modified program guidelines provided technical assistance supporting 645 businesses. The service helped navigate employee issues, triage outstanding expenses, negotiate payments with creditors and apply for relief funds.
  • Our partners helped food establishments adapt their business models with online ordering and delivery, online sale of gift certificates, etc.
  • The City committed a total of $500,000 to 10 community-based business organizations in pandemic specific funding.

Distributing Funds

  • Made 173 loans totaling $1.55 million to businesses in targeted areas to increase equitable results. Around 70% of loan recipients identified as non-white with borrowers identifying as Black/African American as the largest overall recipient group at 42% of total loans.
  • The program provided $5,000 or $10,000 loans of flexible funding to meet immediate working capital needs such as payroll and employee benefits, rent or mortgage payments, accounts payable and payments due to supply chain.
  • Besides direct funds, our business teams helped businesses access funding from County, State and federal resources for a total (including the City funds) of almost 14,000 businesses receiving more than $3 billion.
  • The City business assistance teams relaxed permit fees and fee collections, saving businesses a collective $1.4 million.

Improving Processes

  • The City streamlined reopening for 112 businesses expanding outdoors and reopening in early June by creating a guide; modifying processes and ordinances; and coordinating with the State of Minnesota, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit.
  • City staff rooted the opening plan in racial equity and identified those impacted most by having roundtables with restaurants, labor leaders and community-based groups; and completing a racial equity impact assessment to flag barriers to the business owners and needs of the workers.

Census Deadline Approaching Fast – Get Counted!

Have you completed the census yet? The deadline to get counted in the 2020 census is Sept. 30, and hundreds of Ward 11 households have still not been counted. This affects our community’s ability to get the federal funding we need to support essential programs and services. The 2020 Census is our chance to shape the future of Minneapolis for the next 10 years. In 2010, the City of Minneapolis had a census response rate of 72.8%.

Census takers have begun following up in Minneapolis with households that haven’t yet completed the 2020 Census. Census staff have been hired locally and are here to help households complete their census forms. The goal of census door knockers is to help get an accurate count. Census staffers can be easily identified by a valid government ID badge that includes their photograph and a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark.

Census field staff follow both CDC and local public health guidelines, are trained in physical distancing protocols, and will provide census takers with masks during their visit. Census staff have sworn a lifetime oath of confidentiality. Any information that you provide to them will not be shared with any entity other than the Census Bureau for statistical purposes only and never to identify an individual. Find more information here on verifying a census taker’s identity, COVID-19 protocols or the strategy to visit households that haven’t responded yet.

Do You Have a Plan to Vote?

In less than three weeks, on Sept. 18, the City’s Elections & Voter Services staff will begin sending mail-in ballots to voters for the Nov. 3 general election! Request your mail-in ballot today to ensure you receive it with plenty of time to send it back or drop it off in person at the City’s Early Vote Center before Election Day. More than 7,000 Ward 11 residents voted by mail in last month’s primary election, doing their part to help limit crowding at polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voting by mail will continue to be an option in the general election, along with voting in person, and I look forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks and months about the work our Elections staff is doing to ensure every Minneapolis voter can be heard safely and securely in this very important election.

Serve as an Election Judge

Election judges – or poll workers – to work in every election. These folks make sure every eligible ballot can be cast and counted, and are paid $17.15 per hour for full-day or half-day shifts. The City has received a large number of applications so far, but still has some gaps to fill. The greatest needs at this time are folks who are affiliated with the Republican, Grassroots Legalize Cannabis, and Legal Marijuana Now parties (because the state requires judges at each polling place to represent different political parties) and people who are fluent in Hmong, Amharic, Oromo, and Somali. If you’re interested – and especially if you meet any of those criteria – find more information and apply here.

Make Your Yard More Resilient to Climate Change

We are in a climate emergency, and unseasonable warmth and flooding rains are the new normal in Minnesota. By making your yard more resilient, you can meet these challenges head-on and protect pollinators and our local ecosystem. In partnership with the City, Metro Blooms is hosting another round of online workshops to help you learn how to take climate action in your literal backyard and reduce lawn maintenance in the process.

The Resilient Yards workshop builds an understanding of resilience and how to support it in your yard with site planning, intentional plantings, pollinator habitat, and more. This workshop includes one-on-one design assistance from landscape designers and master gardeners. The Turf Alternatives workshop focuses on converting traditional laws to turf alternatives that require less watering and chemicals, and better support pollinators and water quality.

Find more details and registration information here.

Sign Up for the Zero Waste Challenge

Hennepin County is looking for 50 households to participate in its Zero Waste Challenge. Over eight months, participants receive personalized coaching and support to assess waste generated within the home and develop a customized waste-reduction plan, as well as help making low-waste lifestyle changes. In addition, participants attend a series of virtual workshops on topics like low-waste shopping preventing food waste, and backyard composting. The challenge runs from mid-September to mid-May 2021, and applications are due by Sept. 7. Apply here.

Wash your hands and cover your face!

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

People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users can call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

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