Neighborhood Notes

Minneapolis Connects

Drop off your ballot at the Early Vote Center

Elections and Voter Services 980 E Hennepin Ave map and building entrance images

More than 20,000 Minneapolis voters have mailed in their ballots early for the Aug. 11 State primary, more than three times the number for the Minnesota primary in 2018.

Elections recommends sending in ballots by mail at least 7 days before the election to ensure that your ballot is postmarked on or before the day of the primary (Aug. 11) and is received in the mail no later than two days after the primary (Aug. 13). This is a change from previous election law requiring mail ballots to be received by the day of the primary. Find answers to frequently asked questions about mail-in ballots at vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/bymail.

People dropping off ballots at the Early Vote Center in 2020 primary election

Ballot drop-off

With less than a week before the Aug. 11 primary, the City recommends ballots not be mailed back because they may not be delivered in time to be counted. Instead, mail ballots may be dropped off at Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services’ Early Vote Center, 980 E. Hennepin Ave., from now until 3 p.m. on the day of the primary.

At the Early Vote Center building. A new ballot drive-, roll- or walk-through service will be available starting Friday, Aug. 7. See calendar with daily schedule.

Minneapolis voters may also return their ballot to the Hennepin County Government Center building at skyway level at 300 South 6th St., Minneapolis. See Government Center ballot drop-off hours.

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Aug. 11 primary election safety protocols

For those going to the polls on Election Day, we will have COVID-19 protocols in place to provide a safe and healthy environment for all voters and election judges. The polling place protocols follow best practices from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To make in-person voting safer, 50 of 125 polling places in Minneapolis are moving for the 2020 primary and general elections. The changes will help protect people living in residential facilities and provide more space to keep voters a safe distance from elections staff and each other.

Vote early in person

You can vote at the Early Vote Center, 980 E. Hennepin Ave., until Aug. 10. It’s especially helpful to people who need language support or other special accommodations, such as curbside voting.  While we are in a pandemic, voting early can help people avoid lines and crowds at polling places on the day of the election.

City hiring election judges

The City is hiring election judges for upcoming elections. Read more and apply.


Next steps for proposed charter amendment that would create new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention

On June 26, the City Council voted to advance a proposal to change the City Charter as a ballot measure to be considered by Minneapolis voters. The proposal would remove the Police Department as a required City department and establish a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.

Under State law, proposals to amend the City Charter must first be reviewed by the City Charter Commission. The Charter Commission has at least 60 days to complete its review and submit its recommendation to the City Council but it may take up to 150 days to complete its review.

At the Aug. 5 Charter Commission meeting, commissioners voted to extend their review period for another 90 days, until Nov. 27, 2020.

The Minneapolis Charter Commission has held three public hearings to gather feedback on the proposed amendment and is expected to return its recommendations to City Council at the end of their review period. City Council could submit a new or similar proposal to voters in a future election.

Learn more about this Charter amendment proposal and other actions related to transforming public safety in Minneapolis here.


Free COVID-19 testing on Aug. 15 geared towards Latinx community

Minneapolis is scheduling the second of two free COVID-19 testing events on Aug. 15. All are welcome. The testing is available to people arriving on foot or by car. The first testing event was on Aug. 1.

Register onsite. Registration forms are available in English and Spanish. Spanish interpreters will be onsite. If you have medical insurance, please bring your insurance card.

If you are unable to attend one of these events, find another testing location near you.

Bar areas in restaurants, clubs and bars must close. Table service allowed.

On July 29, Mayor Jacob Frey issued an emergency regulation that ordered the closure of bar areas in restaurants, clubs and other indoor spaces to curb the trend of community spread at bars. The order went into effect at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1. Indoor table service, including at high tops, is allowed as long as patrons follow the existing state guidance. Read more about the emergency regulation.

More than 50 percent of new cases in Minneapolis continue to be in young adults under age 35, who report increased exposure in bars and at gatherings of friends and family. Watch the news conference.

Statewide mask mandate in effect

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Minnesotans are required to wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings. Researchers have advocated for masking, calling it a simple and effective step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The State regulation reinforces Mayor Jacob Frey’s emergency regulation requiring people in Minneapolis to wear cloth face masks or coverings when they are in an indoor place of public accommodation.

Businesses are not required to provide masks to customers or employees themselves, though employers shall be required to mandate the use of masks by their staff. Non-compliance should be reported through 311.

Watch and share this Minnesota Department of Health video.

For information and resources on the mask mandate, including frequently asked questions, visit mn.gov/COVID19.

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Rental assistance available through Hennepin County

Hennepin County is offering emergency rental assistance for residents with low incomes who have been financially harmed by COVID-19. Residents can learn more and apply at www.hennepin.us/rent-help and find more information here:


Census Bureau announces it will end counting efforts Sept. 30

We count and we will be counted. Census 2020. Artwork by Ricardo Levins Morales.

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced that the 2020 census self-response period will end Sept. 30, leaving two months to ensure that our communities are counted. Currently, Minneapolis has a completion rate of 70%. It is important now more than ever that our communities are counted and receive the resources and representation that are needed to meet their needs.

Starting Aug. 6, census takers will begin early non-response follow up in Minneapolis,visiting and interviewing households that haven’t yet completed the 2020 census.

Census workers 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 are trained in social distancing protocols and will provide census takers with masks as well as following both CDC and local public health guidelines during their visit. Read more.

If you haven’t yet completed the 2020 census questionnaire, you can submit your form online in 13 languages, by calling the census hotline or through the mail using the paper census form that you received at home. Translation is offered in multiple languages online, by phone or can be requested when a census worker visits your home.

Pictured: We count and we will be counted! Census 2020. Illustration by Ricardo Levins Morales in collaboration with Creative CityMaking and We Count Minneapolis. Read more about the artwork here.


August immigration developments

New, stricter public charge rule stopped by court order

Enforcement of a new, more restrictive public charge screening rule was recently stopped by a federal court injunction on July 29. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that Immigration Services will use the original, less restrictive guidance when considering immigration applications while the injunction is in effect.

This return to the original public charge screening criteria increases the number of public benefits people may safely apply for without concern about immigration impacts. Learn more about public charge here.

Homeland Security issues memorandum restricting DACA program

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new memorandum on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The memorandum represents a first step in changing DACA processing while the DHS decides how it will respond to the June Supreme Court ruling supporting DACA.

This memorandum instructs DHS personnel to:

  • Reject all pending and future first time requests for DACA and refund filing fees for new applications received.
  • Reject all pending and future requests for advance parole.
  • Cut the DACA renewal and work authorization validity period from two years to one year.
  • Make decisions to end or deny deferred action in the exercise of discretion.

It is important to note that this memorandum does not end the DACA program. Nevertheless, because the memorandum firmly closes the door on new DACA applicants, among other reasons, the memo is likely to result in renewed court battles.

USCIS imposes fee hike for immigration applications on October 2

On August 3rd, Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), published a rule increasing the fees for many immigration applications and eliminating most fee waivers starting October 2, 2020.

These major fee changes, which increase the cost to apply for citizenship to $1,170, permanent residency to $2,270, impose a fee for the first time on asylum applications and eliminate or reduce almost all fee waivers, will create enormous barriers for immigrants and refugees.

Free legal services

Find a list of trusted immigration legal service providers here.

The Minneapolis Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), operating remotely, is also a resource for residents. Please contact OIRA at 612-394-6018 or oira@minneapolismn.gov or visit the OIRA web section on the City website.


National Night Out date changes to Sept. 15 for 2020

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The Minneapolis recommended National Night Out date for 2020 is Tuesday, Sept. 15. Residents can find out if their block is already signed up by emailing crime.prevention@minneapolismn.gov. Registered block leaders received notices directly about closing their streets to hold their event, but a block without a block leader could still hold a COVID-19 safe event by spreading out across three or four yards to make enough space for physical distancing. Read more.


Changes to Minneapolis Homes programs in effort to close racial gaps in home ownership

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.

Highlights of changes include:

  • Focusing on lower income households
  • Diversifying the types of units funded
  • More options for perpetual affordability

Read more.


City Council approves funding package to expand capacity for three new homeless shelters

The City Council has approved a roughly $8 million funding package to expand shelter capacity for three new shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis.

The City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County’s response to homelessness during COVID-19 prioritizes moving people from unsheltered homelessness to safer shelter and housing situations. There has been a significant increase in unsheltered homelessness since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.


Minneapolis Park Board adopts guidelines for park encampments

At its July 15 board meeting, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) commissioners voted to limit the total number of parks available for temporary encampments. The board’s resolution also regulates temporary encampments in parks to support the health and safety of their residents while preserving access to recreation features for park visitors.

The resolution limits the number of parks with encampments to 20 and the number of tents per encampment to 25. It also establishes a new temporary permit that can be issued to an individual or body that agrees to be responsible for the day-to-day oversight of an encampment.

The MPRB would provide restrooms or portable toilets, hand-washing stations, and trash/recycling containers to a permitted encampment within 48 hours of issuing a permit.

The resolution also directs staff to formally request assistance from agencies and organizations that have clear and defined responsibility for addressing homelessness.

The resolution sets a goal of Sept. 15 for park staff to update the board on progress toward moving encampment occupants into shelter and housing suitable for winter conditions.

Find more information here: www.minneapolisparks.org.

Parkways reopened to motor traffic

The funds for parkway closures to allow more space for trail users to follow physical distancing practices and limit the spread of COVID-19 were exhausted by Aug. 3.

All Minneapolis parkways closed to motor vehicle traffic and open to trail users returned to allowing motor vehicle traffic by Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Please continue to follow these safety guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 while using parks and trails:

  • Stay at least 6 feet from people not in your own household.
  • Do not use parks if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, body aches, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat.
  • Cover your cough with your elbow, don’t cough into your hands.
  • Wash your hands immediately before and after visiting a park or trail.

Note that most MPRB water fountains are not operational, and most MPRB restroom buildings remain closed. Keep up to date with Park Board news here.

Parks expanding summer activities

Minneapolis parks offer safely distanced games, sports and recreation in the parks and online. All in-person programs and events are modified to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the statewide “Stay Safe MN” response.

Find the most current activities at www.minneapolisparks.org/summer2020.


City Council adopts revised 2020 City budget

The City Council has approved Mayor Jacob Frey’s revised 2020 City budget proposal that addresses roughly $156 million in projected revenue losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

The mayor will present a recommended 2021 City budget to the City Council later this summer. Learn more about the City budget at minneapolismn.gov/budget.


City reimagining public access television with new vendor BFRESH Productions

Minneapolis is transforming its public access television services to support local storytelling and content creation and encourage community engagement. The City has contracted with BFRESH Productions, a media production and communications agency based in north Minneapolis.

BFRESH will provide community media services such as training, access to production equipment, space and provide and manage free airtime on the City’s public access channels. You are invited to provide feedback by taking this survey as BFRESH gathers data and opportunities to best serve Minneapolis residents. To contact BFRESH Productions, email info@bfreshproductions.com.

Read more.

Minneapolis Connects is published by the City of Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations department (NCR). If you have stories or community events that should be included in next month’s edition, email rebekah.tedrick-moutz@minneapolismn.gov.

For questions, accommodations or alternative formats, please contact Neighborhood and Community Relations at 612-673-3737 or email us at ncr@minneapolismn.gov. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 agents at 612-673-3000. TTY users can call 612-263-6850.

Para asistencia, llame al 612-673-2700 •  Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 • Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.