2022 State of the City
It’s the beginning of a beautiful new day here in North Commons Park. Getting here this morning I saw people out for a run, taking the dog for a morning stroll, enjoying each other, and our city.
This spring season has cast a new light across our city, bringing with it a palpable renewed sense of hope and optimism. From meetings in City Hall to conversations at the many groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings, I’m struck by a newfound sense of focus and determination, a resolve to attack the day with purpose. In Minneapolis, we’re coming back.
A migration back to some familiar spaces, finding many have been changed – and finding we ourselves have been changed too.
In true form, we’re not waiting around for something to happen, or waiting for someone else to make a move. We, the people of Minneapolis, are the ones making moves. We are the ones fueling this comeback.
State of our City
Two years ago, in the earliest days of the pandemic, I reported to you that I saw the greatest city in the world rise to meet the greatest world challenge in generations with characteristic resilience. Little did we know how that resilience would be tested in the weeks and months to come. Today as we approach two years since George Floyd was murdered, we are in many ways a city forever changed. But the characteristic resolve I saw two years ago – that remains, stronger than ever.
Many of you recently gathered with friends and family for Passover, Easter, Ramadan, or just a backyard BBQ to celebrate this ah, warm-ISH weather – a welcome sense of normalcy greeting loved ones with a big hug, a warm embrace that’s been so elusive for two whole years.
As we emerge both literally and figuratively from a long winter, the newness of spring feels more poignant and symbolic. Sure, sometimes it snows in April. Sometimes it snows several times in April. But to be clear, our city is blooming.
The state of our city is renewal.
In this state of renewal, I see a spirit of rejuvenation and resiliency that just doesn’t quit.
Community leaders from Northside to Southside are coming together, building back, and believing in each other.
Businesses are coming back online. I’ve never been so excited to sit in traffic during rush hour or wait in a long line to get a wrap in the skyway.
And just last week I sat alongside our local violence interrupters and our Office of Violence Prevention to meet with the White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative. National experts believe in the work underway to keep our neighborhoods safe and so do I, as will be outlined in our proposal today.
The past few weeks I’ve attended several groundbreakings for new affordable housing in different corners of the city, and we’ve officially joined the national coalition of HUD’s House America in partnership with Hennepin County, and other jurisdictions across the country to reinforce our long-term commitment of building additional housing for people experiencing homelessness.
And we are creating a new system of government – a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine how our local government serves the people of Minneapolis by being more inclusive, more effective, and more responsive. We can amplify the efforts already underway and take our work even further.
Our administration has outlined a plan to fully integrate public safety work under an Office of Community Safety, aligning law enforcement, emergency management, violence prevention initiatives, and outreach staff. This is a moment for sincere unity – to show our city and the world that transformation is indeed happening in Minneapolis. That we are honoring the calls for change. All without sacrificing accountability or reporting structure.
The Office of Community Safety will make good on our promise of an integrated approach to public safety without injecting more elected officials in the daily operations. In other words, we aren’t judging ideas by their origins, but by their merits. I call on our city council to adopt and pass the Office of Community Safety and our new structure of government. Wherever you landed on Question 1 or Question 2, I call on our city to join together in the name of the 90% of things we agree on, instead of staying in our separate corners clinging to the 10% we don’t.
This proposal is source of optimism. Let’s put this optimism to work as we unveil another historic investment of American Rescue Plan funding that will further jumpstart our local economy. It’s a busy spring in Minneapolis and we’re not slowing down.
Last summer, we moved swiftly to invest an initial round of ARPA funding to meet the most urgent needs. The quick, deliberate move made Minneapolis among the first major cities acting to deploy federal funds.
That $102 million allocation helped get our city through a tough time. We made time-sensitive investments to support our affordable housing and homeless response work. We also invested $3 million in our Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program, to provide 200 households a needed income boost of $500 per month for 24 months. And today we have exciting news to share - the first payments to these families are going out in the next couple of weeks.
The remaining unallocated $43 million is what we’re announcing today.
We’ve heard Minneapolis residents loud and clear, safety has to be our top priority.
That means both addressing violent crime and advancing proactive measures to keep our communities safe. We’re both aggressively recruiting new officers and demanding they reflect the values of communities they serve. We’re both rebuilding a police department and investing in violence prevention work. In Minneapolis, we’ve rejected the false dichotomy that good policing cannot coexist with effective public health-based violence prevention.
And our investments reflect this approach.
The 2022 budget provided the resources to add five new recruiting classes to rebuild capacity within the Minneapolis Police Department. And we are making violence prevention funding a matter of practice with the majority of our public safety ARPA dollars in this recommendation going to our Office of Violence Prevention.
Violence prevention requires both a long-term vision and an emergency response. This round of ARPA funding accounts for both.
We’re investing $1 million in the MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative to continue growing roots in community and building deep relationships that underpin sustainable violence prevention efforts. We’re investing more than $600 thousand to add more wrap-around programming for the Minneapolis YouthWorks and Journey Forward program.
We are also adding to our Group Violence intervention initiative with a $250 thousand investment to account for the reality that violent crimes are being committed by younger and younger individuals – sometimes just kids. And the message to these kids is simple. We will support you in making decisions that keep you safe, alive and free. But if you don’t put down the guns there are serious consequences, because we cannot allow our neighborhoods to be plagued with violence.
We know we must also be responsive to the reality these kids are living, the urgency when potential violence is happening tonight. Right now.
With nearly $1 million in a new Community Trauma and De-escalation Initiative, we will work with trusted community partners to create flexible programming that provides important assistance when help is actually needed. Do you need a place to stay? We will help. A job? We can help. Do you need to just get out of here for a while? We can work with you. What will it take to prevent an imminent shooting? If the answer can be addressed with funding, we will help.
We are expanding mobile cameras and lighting to assist in the prevention and investigation of crime. Cameras can be used to assist in times of crisis during 911 calls, and footage can help investigators develop leads and share information with the community.
Sometimes improving safety is as simple as turning on the lights. So, we are investing nearly $1.4 million to accelerate our street light repairs, tackle a citywide backlog, and immediately address fixture damage and system outages. But we aren’t stopping there. We’re converting more than 150 streetlights along West Broadway and Lake Street to LED lighting for both safety AND energy savings. And finally, we’re installing nearly 50 new lights around schools for students who are increasingly walking and biking to school.
With full adoption of our Office of Community Safety, the level of integration across all these efforts will be unmatched by any other city in the country. And we are making every cent count towards making Minneapolis safer for everyone.
None of this work happens in a vacuum. Safety requires a strong ecosystem of affordable housing. Education relies on housing. Public health relies on housing. It is the foundation from which any community succeeds.
We have consistently made investments in affordable housing a top priority – a standard we have set as a matter of practice. During the first term of my administration, my budget increased funding in affordable housing by tens of millions of dollars. Though proud of this accomplishment, we’re not resting on our laurels. We are responding to opportunities to maximize our outcomes to preserve existing affordable housing and accelerate the timeline for the creation of new units.
We’re investing a total of $12.7 million with a combination of new and re-allocated ARPA funding in these recommendations. This will result in a total investment of nearly $45 million in ARPA funds for housing and homelessness response.
Homeownership is the most important pathway to creating generational wealth. But with housing prices increasing at alarming rates, this pathway is out of reach for many families. We’re investing $2.5 million to increase the number of housing units created through our award-winning Minneapolis Homes program and another $4 million will be invested in our NOAH Preservation fund. These investments will fight displacement by providing up to 200 additional units to be acquired for long term preservation.
We’re investing $5 million in a new Housing Opportunity Fund to expedite the development of new affordable units by helping projects that need a final financing source to get started on construction as quickly as possible.
We’re leveraging utility dollars by significantly investing in the intersection of climate action and affordable housing by funding another $1 million to weatherize homes. That means insulation improvements, reducing air leakage, and repairing or replacing furnaces to both lower bills and reduce our carbon footprint.
Finally, a home should be a healthy place. For the first time in a decade, we are witnessing a 75% increase in lead poisoning, in part because families with children are spending more time at home during the pandemic. More than 3,000 kids in our public school system have had lead poisoning. The majority of these are in our BIPOC communities. This is unacceptable.
We are investing $3 million now to put us on course to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Minneapolis by 2035. We are taking on aggressive goals to protect the lives of young children and will be the first major City in the country to eliminate childhood lead poisoning from housing.
Inclusive economic recovery
The ongoing work of economic recovery is being driven with foresight. What we do today will matter years and decades from now.
With this forward-thinking approach, we’re investing $2 million to accelerate our Green Cost Share, an enormously successful program helping businesses make environmentally sustainable upgrades and save money in the process. By 2024, our goal is to support 2,000 properties and 5,000 low-income rental units, primarily focused in the North and South Minneapolis Green Zones and cultural corridors. This funding would leverage $70 million in clean energy investments and save millions of dollars in energy.
Economic recovery also requires community leadership. Earlier this year we lost a giant – a true leader in our American Indian community. The legacy left by Clyde Bellecourt is deeply rooted in Minneapolis with the founding of the American Indian Movement, but his historic work fighting for American Indian civil rights will be felt across the nation for generations.
I am honored to be investing $3.5 million to support the Clyde Bellecourt Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative. This Initiative is a collective of 16 renowned Native American non-profit organizations that have been serving the Twin Cities for more than four decades. This money will enhance the organizations’ ability to modernize and accelerate assistance on a broad range of issues from loss of income and food security, to addiction, homelessness, and violence.
Our partners in my Inclusive Economic Recovery Workgroup have brought forward thoughtful and extensive recommendations that have helped inform many of the investments we’re proposing. They were clear that workforce training must be a key pillar of our efforts and we are investing $850 thousand to double our Public Works Training program and $1 million to take our Youth Employment Training from a spring-only program to a year-round offering. We’re also funding $1 million to expand our Career Pathways and Small Developer Technical Assistance programs.
We’re casting forward and funding Black Business Week this July with a full week of events.
We’re also helping fund Open Streets, a favorite annual tradition for families to walk, bike or roll their favorite corridors and support local businesses along the way.
It’s going to be a busy summer, but with all this work of recovery, we must remember to look up. Walking across our city, the trees tell a story. The tree canopy is incredible around Lake Harriet. On the Northside and in the Philips neighborhood, not so much. We’re going to change that. We’re investing $1 million in seed funding to increase the tree canopy by approximately 200,000 trees by 2040 – all in partnership with the Minneapolis Park Board.
From offsetting carbon to improving air quality, increasing tree coverage is both a beautiful and important mitigation effort for the City’s two major heat islands in the North and South Green Zones. In addition, the program seeks to partner with local community-based organizations to train and hire youth and adults to become arborists and support the ongoing tree maintenance.
Finally, we don’t want to just keep all this good news to ourselves. Telling our story is essential for bringing people back to our city. And bringing people back requires one heck of a big invitation. Here’s why this is important. A person visiting the metro area for a weekend spends an average of more than $300 during their stay. That’s $300 each person is spending at restaurants, hotels, shopping and entertainment – money that’s filling the pockets of our hard-working service and hospitality workers and getting our city’s economy back to a pre-pandemic roar. But it starts with an invitation.
And we are partnering with our friends at Meet Minneapolis and the Downtown Council on that invitation. We’re inviting people to grab a bite on the Northside, do some shopping on Lake Street, and catch a game or a show downtown. We are going to remind everyone of everything there is to love about Minneapolis, and there’s a lot to love.
City staff and public service
Like many of the programs I’ve listed here, the City of Minneapolis enterprise has also faced significant challenges during the pandemic and the more than 4,000 City employees have been showing up every day to keep the City running. They are the backbone of our enterprise. We’re investing $7 million to recruit, hire and retain the extraordinary employees who deserve more thanks than they get. None of the other investments I’ve mentioned are possible without them. This is money well-spent.
We’re aggressively recruiting new police officers who want to be the change we need to see in the department. Our recruits are coming in eyes wide open about challenges, but with an intense focus on rebuilding trust with the people they serve.
Over the past few years, City employees have experienced trauma at alarming rates – just this week a Traffic Control Agent was threatened with a gun for writing a citation for a vehicle blocking an alley, and this is tragically not the only story like this we’ve heard from employees across public works, regulatory services and more. This is greatly concerning to me and will not be tolerated.
Out-of-pocket costs for mental health services are often prohibitive. A City Employee should not have to check their bank account before deciding whether to get professional mental health supports. We are investing $1.5 million to extend enhanced mental health coverage for city employees.
The last two years, city staff have boldly stepped into unimaginable challenges, coming to work every day to make the city a better place. This is how I know our city staff, and it’s what they deserve to be known for by everyone. We need to reignite the light of why people want to work here and project that light to our entire region. If you love this city, we want you to join our team.
It is only with our team of City employees that we can bring to life all the investments I’ve covered here today. From planners to public works, from police officers to payroll, these are extraordinary teams undertaking extraordinary work.
We’ve covered a lot of important investments here, but I have to say, I saved a great one for last.
Last year we achieved a generational milestone in dramatically expanding funding for youth recreation in our parks on an ongoing basis. This year we are going further.
Parks are a place we’re supposed to feel safe and have fun. We are investing $3 million right here in North Commons. This neighborhood-inspired vision will have expanded recreation facilities, arts and community gathering, new parking, a new fieldhouse to host tournaments and events, and a waterpark renovation with a new splash pad, water slides and even a lazy river. In short, this place is really going to make some waves here on the Northside.
Much like the park I stand in today, our city is bursting with soon-to-be-realized potential. A new beginning alongside a newfound sense of unity. While our problems are by no means solved, for the first time in a couple of years, we are feeling a collective sense of renewal.
And the vision we seek to achieve is that of a city that seized this moment and built a future by everyone, for everyone. A city in which Sarah and I will raise Frida to be whatever she wants to be and where every child has the opportunity to do exactly that.
The forecast, in every sense of the word is improving. Families are filling the parks, just like this one. People are back downtown. The Timberwolves are winning. The patios are bursting with happy patrons. The farmers markets are back in business. Twins games are illuminating the night sky once again. From the Capri to Parkway to the Orpheum, theaters are packing the seats. Art-a-Whirl is just around the corner, and Block parties and cookouts are all getting into full swing. This energy is city-wide and it’s here to stay. Because we love this city, we are coming back. The state of our city is renewal.