Housing, homelessness and COVID–19

An update from Council Member Alondra Cano on affordable housing, homelessness and COVID-19.

Housing update

Neighborhoods 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd have had major consequences on our operating budget as a City. A $160 million-dollar shortfall for the City of Minneapolis has required an unprecedented mid-year budget adjustment which impacts all program funding and department budgets.

In turn, NCR was tasked with cutting 15% of their operating budget, and July 24th, the Mayor and the City Council adopted a revised budget for the remainder of this fiscal year that included a $750,000 cut to neighborhood organization funding alongside cuts to the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department (NCR)’s operating budget, programs and grants. NCR’s goal is to limit the impact of these cuts on the community as much as possible.

In October, NCR will present more details regarding how these cuts will impact neighborhoods to the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Policy Board. In reviewing where funds would be reduced, NCR has looked at both the 2020 CPP funds as well as NRP funds. If cuts are made to the 2020 CPP funds, there would be an immediate impact on all neighborhood organizations by requiring that neighborhood organizations make up the budget shortfall in less than six months. In turn, the reduction will made to the NRP fund balance. Unlike CPP, there is a large balance in the NRP fund, and the impact of any cut can be spread out over a much longer timeframe.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your neighborhood specialist and read the City’s Neighborhoods 2020 plan.

Maintaining and Expanding Affordable Housing

The City and County have significantly increased investments in affordable housing development in 2019 and 2020, with priority for housing serving persons experiencing homelessness. In the last 12 months, 2,107 people in Hennepin County have successfully moved from homelessness to permanent housing.

Here is the most current information pertaining to Powderhorn Park and other encampments, recent Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board actions, City response and supports, as well as needed advocacy at the State level:

POGO Committee Actions on July 24, 2020

CM Cano and the City Council approved a package of approximately $8 million from federal Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) COVID response dollars to expand shelter in three separate projects, including:

  • A new women’s specific stand-alone, year-round shelter. This project is a partnership between the City and the County, and a non-profit service provider.
  • A new medical respite shelter beds to serve medically frail persons experiencing homelessness – this project is part of a partnership with Catholic Charities to also add 167 units of permanent supportive housing to serve persons who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. This project is funded by the City, County and State through Minnesota Housing.
  • A new emergency shelter culturally designed to serve Native American persons experiencing homelessness. This project is in partnership with American Indian Community Development Corporation, and funded by the City, County and State.

The City and County released a joint RFP for federal ESG-COVID response funds. The city is sought applications from community providers to bolster our homeless response system during the pandemic. Funds can be used for shelter (rehabilitation or operation), rapid rehousing and street outreach.

Providers should apply at Hennepin County's eSupplier Portal.

Questions concerning this RFP should be submitted in writing via e-mail to the following address: Jacqueline.Gould@hennepin.us.

There is currently a first round of grants available through the State: Emergency Solutions Grant COVID- 19 Funds, Round 1 (ESG-CV1). Service providers can apply and use these to:Prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and related economic hardships among individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homeless assistance; and Support additional and/or maintain homeless assistance activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID- 19, related economic hardships, and persistent barriers to housing.

More information about funding resources for COVID response

Immediate Shelter and Housing

There are currently about 50 private rooms available for families at both St. Anne’s and People Serving People. We continue to implore all families with children to contact Hennepin County shelter team at 612-348-9410 so that they can get into one of these safe places today.

Hennepin County's Waypoint, is an app/mobile platform intended to provide a comprehensive list of resources for people experiencing homelessness or financial hardship.

Learn more about how Waypoint works.

Outreach and Housing Resources

The City and the County significantly increased funding for outreach and are continuing to support our private partners in housing navigation services. These funds are ongoing:

  • The City is providing $200,000 of COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grant funds for specific outreach to connect people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to housing.
  • The County is providing $200,000 to American Indian Community Development Corporation and the MN Indian Women’s Resource Center.
  • The City and County have ongoing contracts with St. Stephens.
  • There are about 100 units that typically come available every month through the County's coordinated entry process. These contracted private providers connect unhoused residents with these opportunities.

State Level Advocacy

The State's last special session closed without a bonding bill. These were the asks on the table from the Governor, the DFL caucus, Homes for all Coalition, and our IGR (Intergovernmental relations) team at the City. Hopefully we can approach this conversation again in August when the Governor is likely to call another special session:

The Governor’s bonding request of $260 million dollars is broken down in the following ways:

  • $200 million for Housing Infrastructure Bonds; to preserve and building permanent affordable housing statewide
  • $60 million General Obligation Bonds: to maintain federal housing statewide

The Homes for All Coalition request of $325 million is broken down as follows:

  • $225 Million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds (includes $25 Million set-aside for shelter)
  • $100 Million in GO Bonds for public housing rehabilitation.

State funding must be secured in order to provide more dignified housing options. The City’s Intergovernmental Relations team has been working diligently to advocate for these dollars.

If you would like to get involved in a coordinated campaign to request resources from the State, please connect with Homes for All.

Minneapolis Health Department Update

The City and the Health Department are working continuously to address issues that arise from encampments and continuing to support the unsheltered homeless community across the across the city. Since the end of March, a team of people working specifically on the response to unsheltered homeless within the City of Minneapolis. Has provided the following:

COVID-19 Mitigation

These include:

  • Distributed 250 thermometers
  • Distributed 900 masks
  • Distributed 4,000 hand wipes
  • Distributed 150 large bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Preparation and distribution of COVID-19 Myths and Facts Flyer
  • Preparation and distribution of bathroom and handwashing location flyers

Hygiene

  • 23 porta potties (the Parks are maintaining porta potties at Powderhorn, the City is maintaining porta potties at 5 other park locations; 1 County owned space; 1 State owned space and 16 private or City owned locations.
  • 5 handwashing stations
  • 6 large syringe boxes (11 were placed last fall and most were moved to be paired with the porta potty and handwashing stations; 5 additional were ordered and placed in mid-June)
  • 10 trash receptacles (Parks is managing trash receptacles at all park encampment locations)
  • We maintain a list of other potential locations for hygiene stations based on a needs assessment and on requests received from partners.
  • We partnered with our homeless outreach partner organizations to distribute 550 hygiene kits (which include shampoo, comb, razor, shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, wash cloth, towel, soap, feminine hygiene products, and baby wipes). Five hundred more have been ordered and were distributed at the end of July.
  • Partnered with CPED to distribute 76,800 bottles of water.

Harm Reduction

  • Placed 16 large syringe boxes in partnership with the hygiene stations
  • Distributed 780 individual syringe boxes
  • Distributed 30 drug deactivation packets
  • Distributed 30 tongs to pick up used syringes
  • Distributed 2 – 5-gallon collection pails to park volunteer
  • A contracted vendor has collected/picked up over 4,000 used syringes from the various encampments
  • Contract with Southside Harm Reduction to do syringe exchange, naloxone distribution and training on how to administer naloxone

Rental Assistance and Resources

In addition, the County has provided up to $15 million in rental assistance funding. This application is live and should be sought by those who fear eviction due to financial pressures related to COVID-19.

See Hennepin County emergency housing assistance due to COVID-19

More information about the City’s homeless response and efforts to create affordable housing.

Rent Control

The City Council approved $125,000 in the 2020 budget to complete a study evaluating rent stabilization policies. City staff are reviewing RFP responses and expect to make a recommendation to City Council in September to select a consultant to do this analysis. City is currently barred from enacting rent control measures by State law.

Evictions

The City approved $3 million in emergency housing assistance. The County has made $15 million available and the State is making up to $100 million available to organizations throughout the State to provide emergency rental and mortgage assistance. Hennepin County is receiving $6 million of this $100 million.

Learn how to apply at the Hennepin County rental assistance website.

We will post information on how to access State funds when it becomes available.

Notification of sale of rental housing

The City adopted an ordinance requiring owners of NOAH property to provide advance notice of sale before selling property. Buyers of these properties are required to follow 90-day tenant protection requirements.

Details can be found in the Advance Notice of Sale Ordinance.

Affordable Housing

On July 31 the City Council approved changes to the City’s Minneapolis Homes programs that reflect a citywide strategy to create sustainable homeownership opportunities and make a meaningful impact to close the homeownership gap between white households and Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Immigrant (BIPOCI) households in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Homes focuses on reducing property vacancy, creating new housing units and sustaining homeownership in the city by providing educational, financing and property opportunities to homebuyers, homeowners and developers.

Minneapolis Homes programs are changing significantly in response to market data and community feedback through a long-term affordability housing study led by the City and Grounded Solutions Network. Highlights of changes include:

  • Focusing on lower income households: All homebuyer programs are changing to focus on households that make less than $80,000 a year with meaningful pathways to provide sufficient subsidy for households making less than $60,000 or $40,000 a year. All City-owned land suitable for residential development will be reserved for creating affordable housing moving forward.
  • Diversifying the types of units funded: One- to 20-unit ownership projects throughout the city are eligible. Projects can be on City-owned land or privately-owned land. Acquisition, rehabilitation, down payment assistance, and new construction are all eligible activities.
  • More options for perpetual affordability: The City is launching its own model for perpetually affordable housing, which will sell homes at an affordable price and provide homeowners with a 2% rate of return annually in most market conditions. City of Lakes Community Land Trust partnerships and new perpetually affordable housing models will also be encouraged through City programs.

Learn more about the Minneapolis Homes program.