Today, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey delivered his first State of the City address of his second term. Frey highlighted the structural changes underway within the City of Minneapolis, from the new Office of Community Safety to accelerated investments in affordable housing, inclusive recovery, and violence prevention. He also outlined his proposal for spending the remaining $43 million dollars of the total $271 million awarded to the City of Minneapolis through the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
The proposal features a strong emphasis on inclusive economic recovery ($10,930,000 million), affordable housing and homelessness response ($12,748,969 million including new and re-allocated ARPA funding), community safety ($6,460,000 million), and climate and public health ($11,580,476 million) measures. Approximately $8,915,000 million is also budgeted for enterprise investments such as recruitment and retention of City employees. The setting for Frey’s State of the City address – North Commons Park – will receive $3 million of the proposed funding, included in the climate and public health funding.
Frey’s affordable housing priorities include an emphasis on home ownership, affordable housing production and preservation, catch up on a backlog of housing inspections, and creating more opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. His inclusive economic recovery priorities include the Clyde Bellecourt Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative, job training and employment for the city's youth and adults, and stimulating city-wide tourism and downtown events. For public safety, Frey is prioritizing a both-and approach of violence prevention and emergency response, supported through funding community programs. Finally, for climate and public health, Frey’s priorities include eliminating lead poisoning in children, planting a tree canopy in the city, supporting a community health fund, and facilitating other weatherization efforts.
“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 purpose and focus, a resolve to attack the day with purpose. In Minneapolis, we’re coming back,” Frey said.
Frey continued: “Let’s put this optimism to work as we unveil another historic investment of American Rescue Plan Act funding that will further jumpstart our local economy. It’s a busy spring in Minneapolis and we’re not slowing down. 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.”
In 2021, Frey and City staff moved swiftly to analyze Treasury guidance and develop and vet an initial round of spending that met the City’s most urgent needs. The move made Minneapolis among the first major cities to finalize a plan for deploying the crucial federal funds, and this final round of funding completes the plan.
Frey’s proposal will move through the City Council process beginning at the Budget Committee meeting on May 4. The process will include:
- First presentation to the Budget Committee on May 4.
- Follow-up presentation to the Budget Committee on May 6.
- Public Hearing on May 12.
- Amendments brought forward at Budget Committee meeting on May 18.
- If amended and approved, budget will go to full City Council meeting on May 26.
Key items included in the mayor’s final $43 million-dollar American Rescue Plan proposal include:
- NOAH Preservation ($4,000,000): Post-pandemic housing market uncertainties may present additional opportunities for preservation buyers to acquire NOAH properties as current owners look to sell. This funding will increase resources available in two existing NOAH acquisition programs - NOAH Preservation Fund and Small and Medium Multifamily program. Under current program rules, this amount will support acquisition and preservation of 100-200 NOAH units.
- Minneapolis Homes: Create & Provide Access to Homeownership ($2,500,000): Housing prices are increasing at an alarmingly higher rate than incomes, making homeownership out of reach for most households particularly low to moderate income households. Funding the Minneapolis Homes Financing program will provide development gap assistance for the development on City-owned lots.
- Clyde Bellecourt Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative ($3,500,000): The Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative was founded because Native American non-profits do not have the resources to properly invest in their capital needs for their organizations. Instead, all available resources have been dedicated to helping the people through their programming and services to reverse these disparities. This funding will modernize and bolster the capacity for all organizations participating within this effort, specifically the Minneapolis American Indian Center, the Indigenous Peoples Task Force and MIGIZI Communications.
- Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning ($3,000,000): This would be a first in the nation plan to eliminate lead poisoning in rental homes starting in our environmental justice communities with historically high levels of lead poisoning first. Interventions would primarily be window replacement. This would be a data-driven program acting in neighborhoods that we know have lead risks for children. This program addresses the need to find and remove hazards before children encounter them.
- Tree Planting to Support the Green Minneapolis Climate Resiliency Initiative ($1,000,000): Minneapolis Park Board (MPRB) staff estimates capacity to add approximately 200,000 additional street trees and park trees to the existing 600,000 trees currently under MPRB management. Green Minneapolis will lead collaboration with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to add and maintain trees that will mitigate the City’s major heat islands - North and South Green Zones and Downtown and equalize tree canopy coverage across environmentally disadvantage parts of the city. 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 maintenance, growing and planting of trees.
- Street Lighting Improvements ($1,360,000): This funding will help accelerate street light repairs and immediately address fixture damage and system outages. Additionally, the City would convert more than 150 streetlights along West Broadway and Lake Street to LED lighting for both safety and energy savings and install nearly 50 new lights around schools for students who are increasingly walking and biking to school.
- Portable Camera and Lighting Expansion ($1,000,000): The Minneapolis Police Department will use this funding to expand the fleet of mobile cameras and lighting for use in areas of high crime or hotspots to both deter crime and to aid in investigations. Cameras would be viewed in real time during periods of high crime and used to clear and assist during 911 calls. Recorded camera footage can be utilized by investigators to help develop leads as well as share informational requests with the community. Additional lighting can deter crime as well as enhance video footage.
- MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative ($1,000,000): Through this initiative, Outreach Workers will provide peacemaking/peacekeeping, violence interruption, and community engagement through street- and community-based outreach. Funds will be used primarily for contracts to support Violence Interrupter wages to ensure significant coverage by Violence Interrupters. Funds may also be used for outreach supplies, violence prevention outreach events, and training and technical assistance. That may include increasing existing contracts with MinneapolUS Strategic Outreach Initiative contracted partners or engaging new partners.
- Recruitment, hiring, and retention of City of Minneapolis employees ($7,000,000): The City of Minneapolis enterprise has faced significant challenges during the pandemic, and City employees have been showing up every day to keep the city running. They are truly the backbone of our enterprise. With that, we’re investing $7 million to recruit, hire, and retain extraordinary employees. None of the other investments in our ARPA funding are possible without City staff to put the programs in place.
- Mental health support for City of Minneapolis employees ($1,500,000): 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. This funding will extend enhanced mental health coverage for City employees.
- Investment in North Commons Park ($3,000,000): The concept for the building, which is an approved direction of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board of Commissioners, includes a new recreation center with expanded facilities supporting recreation, arts and community gathering, a waterpark renovation and expansion, a new parking area, and the removal of the existing recreation center. The overall project cost for Phase 1 of this project is projected to be $17 million. The North Commons Recreation Center is supported by a grant from the State of Minnesota in the amount of $5.15 million, and the MPRB has currently allocated $2 million towards this project. Additionally, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar submitted a $2 million Community Funding Project request.