Ward 11 Update (including Free Covid testing locations)

Ward 11 Neighbors,

Below you’ll find the latest updates on key issues affecting our community. 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 jeremy.schroeder@minneapolismn.gov 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.

Free COVID-19 Testing

Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases are again on the rise, underscoring the importance of continuing to follow critical public health guidance like keeping your face covered in public, remaining at least six feet from people not in your household, and washing your hands regularly. The City is hosting several free COVID-19 testing events this month where everyone is welcome and insurance is not required:

  • Thursday, Oct. 8 and Thursday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Masjid An-Nur Mosque (1729 Lyndale Ave N). Register onsite. Somali interpreters will be available.
  • Thursday, Oct. 8 and Friday, Oct. 9 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church (2507 Bryant Ave N). Pre-register here or register onsite.
  • Thursday, Oct. 22 and Friday, Oct. 23 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Peters AME (401 E 41st St). Pre-registration will be available soon or register onsite.

Your results should be available in about two business days. If you are unable to attend these events, check Hennepin County’s upcoming community testing events and the state’s list of its upcoming community testing events. In addition, this state directory can help you find a testing location near you. Additional COVID-19 resources for households are listed in the final section of this newsletter.

City to Open More Ballot Drop-off Sites

We’re less than one month from Election Day – Nov. 3 – and Minneapolis voters continue their record pace for voter turnout. So far, nearly 50,000 Minneapolis voters – including almost 4,000 in Ward 11 – have voted early in person or by mail. Voting early helps prevent crowding at polling places on Election Day, keeping you and your neighbors safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

To make sure safe, accessible early voting is available to everyone, our Elections and Voter Services team this week announced plans to open several additional sites where folks can drop off completed mail-in ballots. This option is available to Minneapolis voters who prefer to hand-deliver their mail-in ballots rather than sending them back in the postage-paid envelope provided. If you mail in your ballot, you can track its status and acceptance using the Secretary of State’s ballot look-up tool. If you have not yet done so, request your mail-in ballot today using this form to ensure you have ample time to receive it, fill it out, and submit it. More than 130,000 Minneapolis voters have requested mail-in ballots in this election. Get more information on voting by mail here.

Meanwhile, voting early in person remains an option to all Minneapolis voters. Several thousand have cast their ballots at the City’s Early Vote center (980 E Hennepin Ave). Typical operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with expanded hours and weekend service in the two weeks leading up to Election Day. Our Early Vote Center has all the features typically found in a polling place including curbside voting, assistive voting equipment, and staff with language assistance skills. Minneapolis voters can also vote early at the Hennepin County Government Center (details and service hours available here.) For the last seven days of early voting, the City will open two additional Early Vote Centers. Get more information on voting early in person here.

Public Safety Updates

City Council Approves Public Safety Engagement Plan

The City Council last week approved an outline for expansive community engagement on how to improve our public safety system. Under the plan, community members citywide will have various opportunities to offer input on alternatives to policing and police responses, public health-oriented violence prevention, and law enforcement reforms and/or changes to police protocols and practices. The approved process is divided into four parts:

  • Phase One (October-December 2020): A community survey and public forums focused on the current model of community safety and opportunities for changes, with a synthesis of initial themes presented to the City Council in early December along with a draft vision for consideration and adoption by the City Council.
  • Phase Two (January-March 2021): Public forums for community members to review and confirm the themes and goals established in the first phase plus a deeper dive into ideas for a new public safety model to help inform draft recommendations of action steps to realize the established vision and goals.
  • Phase Three (April-May 2021): Opportunities to offer feedback on draft recommendations at public forums and online.
  • Phase Four (June-July 2021): Recommendations will be refined and finalized, incorporating community feedback gathered throughout the engagement process, with a final report to the City Council on strategies for building a new model for community safety.

This process will be open to all community members who wish to participate. Recommendations will focus on but may not be limited to intermediate policy changes, investments and partnerships that support a public health approach to community safety, alternatives to policing, and research and engagement to inform the potential creation of a new Department of Community Safety. There will be a review and analysis of existing models, programs and practices that could be applied in Minneapolis. This process will build on the work already underway to refine and improve our 911 response and shift certain calls for help to responders other than the Police Department. It will also identify resources needed to support recommendations.

The proposed engagement plan is a key component of the City Council’s commitment, adopted by the City Council in June, to a year-long process for gathering input, conducting research and exploring structural change.

Comment on Public Safety This Thursday, Oct. 8

Separate from the process detailed above, the City Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee will hear from community members during a public comment period at the beginning of its next meeting this Thursday, Oct. 8 at 1:30 p.m. As a reminder, all City Council meetings are being held remotely in keeping with public health guidance during the COVID-19 pandmic. To comment at the committee meeting, sign up in advance on the City website. I do not sit on the Public Health and Safety Committee but will review comments received at this meeting.

Give Feedback on Freelance Worker Protections Ordinance

The City of Minneapolis has drafted frequently asked questions and rules documents to provide general guidance to freelance workers and those who hire freelancers about their rights and responsibilities under the City’s freelance worker protections ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1.

The ordinance will help prevent the exploitation of freelance workers, including many self-employed entrepreneurs who work as independent contractors. Under the ordinance, businesses that hire certain freelancers for their work in the City of Minneapolis must confirm their agreement in writing. It is an ordinance violation for a hiring party to refuse to pay the freelancer as stated in the contract or demand a freelancer accept less compensation after work has started as a condition of being paid on time. Submit public comments about the clarity and substance of information in the FAQs and rules here. The comment period runs through Dec. 31

Find more information on the City’s worker protections initiatives here.

Hennepin County Plans to Purchase Metro Inn

The Hennepin County Board has voted unanimously to spend a portion of its COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government to purchase the Metro Inn motel at 5637 Lyndale Ave S and a second property outside Ward 11 to serve as shelters for folks transitioning out of homelessness. This is a transaction between Hennepin County and the owners of Metro Inn; the City is not a party to the deal and does not vote on it.

Here is the information I have from Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene’s office:

  • Hennepin County’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority is in negotiations to purchase the Metro Inn. The motel, which has 32 rooms, will be turned into housing for seniors and COVID-19-vulnerable people who have been in County-provided housing as part of the County’s public health response to the pandemic. Residents are able to live independently. The end goal of this project is secure housing for people at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic and that they can become part of the neighborhood.
  • Hennepin County is committed to providing affordable, long-term housing for vulnerable people. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for housing has become even more urgent to ensure that vulnerable populations have a safe place to stay, with individual living spaces that enable compliance with public health precautions. That is why the county is responding to this opportunity to purchase the Metro Inn Motel and an additional building in the Stevens Square Neighborhood, and aim to have them ready for residents to move in by the end of this year.
  • A more detailed timeline will be solidified as negotiations progress. The County will be requesting proposals from management companies for the building very shortly.
  • The office of Hennepin County Commissioner Greene is working with Windom neighborhood leaders on future communications, project updates, and opportunities for input.

If you have questions, contact Laura Hoffman in Commissioner Greene’s office. You can reach her at laura.hoffman@hennepin.us or 612-348-0863.

Yard Waste Reminders

The leaves are beginning to fall, which means you might have more yard waste than usual in the next several weeks. Through the week of Nov. 16, you can set out your bagged and bundled yard waste – including leaves, brush, and other yard trimmings – by 6 a.m. on your regular garbage day for pickup.

To properly prepare your yard waste, you can set it out in a reusable container that holds between 32 and 38 gallons with sturdy handles, in compostable bags (paper or certified compostable plastic), or bundle it with string or twine. Each container, bag, or bundle must weigh less than 40 pounds, and branches must be less than three inches in diameter and cut to less than 3 feet. Using bags marked “biodegradable” or “degradable” do not meet state law and are not accepted. Finally, please do not rake leaves into the street – it’s against the law, and pollutes our waterways. Questions about yard waste pickup? Check this website or call 612-673-2917 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Offer Input on Future Transit Service

Metro Transit is seeking feedback as part of Network Next, its 20-year plan for expanding and improving our bus network. Transit improvements under consideration include improved local and express routes as well as new arterial bus rapid transit (BRT) lines. Two potential BRT routes would serve Ward 11 – the 4, which runs along Lyndale Avenue, and the 18, which runs along Nicollet Avenue. Future BRT corridors will be selected based in part on input from riders and communities served. Provide feedback through this survey, which is open through this Friday, Oct. 9. Learn more about Network Next here.

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Tomorrow, Oct. 7, is Energy Efficiency Day! Celebrate by taking a look at this list of energy efficiency tips that will help you reduce energy consumption at home, reducing your carbon footprint and utility bills in the process.

This is also a great occasion to take a closer look at your home’s energy usage and explore ways to reduce your consumption and your carbon footprint. You can start by signing up for a free Home Energy Squad visit where an energy professional will help you identify your best options for energy savings now and in the future. In addition, if you decide to move forward with energy improvements, you may be able to get a no-interest loan to cover the cost of energy efficiency upgrades. If you have a remote Home Energy Squad visit or received a Home Energy Squad visit within the last three years, you are eligible to receive this City funding to make energy upgrades to your home. Please note this financing is limited and only available through the end of 2020, so start planning now.

COVID-19 Resources for Households

As COVID-19 puts additional strain on families and individuals, there are resources available to help. I will continue to share the following resources in each of my newsletters, and I encourage you to pass this information along to any family, friends, or neighbors who may can benefit from these programs.

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.

Free Meals for Kids 18 and Younger

Free meal boxes are available to all Minneapolis families with children ages 18 and younger. Similar to the free food box program Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) operated in the spring and summer, all families are welcome to participate at no cost – children do not need to be enrolled at an MPS school. Families can pick up one box per child per week. Each box contains five breakfasts and five lunches with fresh produce and whole grains. Milk is available upon request. Meal boxes are available for pickup Monday through Friday at 29 school sites across Minneapolis. Find the full list of pickup sites and hours here. Call 612-668-2820 or email info.cws@mpls.k12.mn.us with questions.

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.

Leave a Reply