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Request for Committee Action

A briefing memo explaining the purpose, background, and impact of the requested action.
2020 City Response and Recovery to COVID-19 and Civil Unrest (RCA-2021-00040)

Community Planning & Economic Development
To Committee(s)
# Committee Name Meeting Date
1 Policy & Government Oversight Committee Jan 13, 2021
Lead Staff:
Erik Hansen
Presented By:
Andrea Brennan
Action Item(s)
# File Type Subcategory Item Description
1 Receive & File Report

Receiving and filing a review of the City enterprise's 2020 activities and supports in response and recovery to the pandemic and civil unrest.

Ward / Neighborhood / Address
# Ward Neighborhood Address
1. All Wards
Background Analysis

The year 2020 was one of the most challenging year’s in City of Minneapolis history. States of emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest following the killing of Mr. George Floyd disrupted many lives and strained the City’s resources. Orders related to these emergencies disrupted the economy closing more than 1,700 businesses and causing more than 144,000 people to request unemployment benefits, while the unrest caused more than $350 million in damages to property and infrastructure and untold hardships across the city. Economic shocks from these emergencies exacerbated strains to household budget and increased housing and food instability, especially for low-wage income earners.

The City enterprise worked creatively with policy makers, community-based partners, other levels of governments, and across departments to respond to this community need. While the City was able to either directly provide or work with its partners to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid, overall need exceeded available resources. The pandemic did not create racial and economic disparities in Minneapolis, but it has widened them. Without focus in 2021, especially with reduced resources, these gaps will continue to grow. Moving into the second year of the pandemic, strategic work that both flattens the pandemic curve and directly addresses the impacts of institutional racism and the ongoing disparities must have priority.

Aggregate City Investment*

Dollar value of direct rental & business assistance


Dollar value of fee refunds


Dollar value of investments in homelessness response


Dollar value of other housing assistance and evictions prevention grants to non-profit providers for advocacy and housing stabilization assistance, legal representation, and foreclosure prevention counseling


Dollar value of increased employment and training services


Number of masks distributed


Number of containers of hand sanitizer distributed


Number of COVID-19 testing events

33 City-sponsored events, tested 3,582 people

Number of community sanitation stations

50, 22 City-sponsored, 28 City-Parks collaboration

Dollar value of COVID-19 testing


Dollar value of PPE for residents and organizations


Dollar value of grants to free food distribution sites

$ 976,597

Number of renter households receiving housing assistance (Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing only)


BIPOC renters receiving housing assistance (Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing only)

1381 (84% of all applicants)

Number of business receiving technical assistance


Number of businesses receiving technical assistance with BIPOC owners

583 (75% of total business assisted)

Number of license, utility, permit, and land use fees waived


New Policy Adopted or Introduced

*as of various dates, aggregated on 12/21/2020

Through 2021, the City enterprise will approach priorities, programs, and projects that increase the impacts of these priorities. Starting from our Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan (SREAP) goals, activities will need to improve public health outcomes and increase economic stability and prospertity to those historically harmed BIPOC and prevent involuntary displacement among black, indigenous, people of color and immigrant communities (BIPOC). The City will receive a direct allocation of federal emergency rent assistance approved as part of COVID-19 relief funding in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021. The City will launch a new emergency housing assistance program in January, using these federal emergency rental funds and/or federal CDBG-CV funding. Ensuring that these funds are made available to Minneapolis residents will be a priority in 2021. In some cases, current activities that meet these priorities to a lesser degree will receive reduced resources and attention and may be paused. The following report reviews the supports from City enterprise in response to the first year of the pandemic and strategic steps toward a stronger, equitable, inclusive, and resilient recovery.

Minneapolis Forward: Responding to, Recovering from, and Transforming Our City through amid the Pandemic

Unfortunately, neither the Coronavirus pandemic nor the pandemic of racism is over. Reduced resources available to continue to react to needs require the City to prioritize our actions and investments. Despite these unprecedented times, our work cannot neglect pre-pandemic strategic plans to eliminate racial disparities and facilitate economic inclusion starting with those most historically impacted. The City must continue its evolution of intentional engagement, partnership, and investment with those most impacted by decisions as we address long-term recovery and transformation. Intentionally and explicitly identifying who we are serving and how these residents and businesses are included in the decision-making process helps build trust and improves community outcomes city-wide.

Since April, the City’s enterprise has worked under the brand Minneapolis Forward to align our response, recovery, and transformation actions centered on reducing racial inequity and facilitating inclusive economic solutions. Our approach leveraged existing relationships, grew new partnerships, and began restoring trust where it had been broken. The City continues to work with community-based service providers, neighborhood organizations, and business associations to develop strategies. To increase advice and agency from missing voices and experiences, the City will participate in new coalitions and partnerships. A central example, , the Minneapolis Forward Community Now Coalition, brings together a cross-sector coalition of business, cultural institution, community organization, and foundation leadership to move through and emerge from the pandemics as a stronger, inclusive, equitable, and resilient City by identifying strategies that deliver systemic solutions.

The City’s enterprise broke down operational barriers to build cross-departmental teams to react to over 100 State Emergency Orders, 20 Mayoral Emergency Regulati0ons, and multiple City Council staff directions to help meet immediate needs and look towards future opportunities. Led out of the gate by the Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health, the City deployed resources to community to build awareness of and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past year it has built a tracking dashboard to monitor the ever-changing conditions in the City, distributed personal protective equipment, provided testing and contact tracing, and offered other public health supports. As of mid-December, the City has tracked over 29,000 cases of COVID-19 in the city, issued dozens of public health advisories, supported the statewide effort to complete over 5 million COVID-19 tests sponsoring 33 testing events, distributed over 1.2 million masks to  businesses, residents, and community organizations, installed 50 community sanitation station, and is now supporting the State’s vaccination program.

Health, partnering with Neighborhood and Community Relations, convened a Food Insecurity Task Force in response to the increased need for food in the early phase of the pandemic. Through this task force’s work, the City provided over $900,000 in grants to local free food distribution sites to support capacity building and acute emergency food relief, collaborated with Minneapolis Public Schools to ensure children and families in Minneapolis had emergency food and knew where to get it, and provided culturally-specific meal delivery for seniors, in partnership with Appetite for Change.

Staff. They also worked closely with Minneapolis farmers market managers, MDA, MDH, MFMA and Farmers Markets of Minneapolis collaborative leadership to develop, implement and communicate COVID protocols to allow safe and successful operation.  The City helped leverage more than $60,000 in local funding resources for markets to safely operate and provided in-kind support such as PPE and signage and co-hosted bi-weekly virtual convenings for market managers.  In 2020, most of the large farmers markets were able to open.

Health inspectors conducted 1,970 inspections of bars and restaurants, which included reviews of and guidance on COVID 19 preparedness plans. Inspectors responded to 84 COVID outbreaks connected to bars and restaurants.

Additionally, health inspectors provided direct technical support to corner stores, focused on North Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood. Inspectors brought tape, cones, signage, and other physical materials to set up physical distancing guidelines

The Department of Public Works established the Stay Healthy Streets program. This program included, pick-up only zones to support local business, fewer pedestrian push buttons to reduce the need to touch surfaces, and 16 miles of dedicated Stay Healthy Streets treatments to support comfortable walking, rolling and biking while social distancing. The City is taking lessons learned from these emergency installations to inform future investments to support traffic calming, walking and biking on routes prioritized based on safety and community input.

Expanding partnership with community-based business and housing advocates help secure direct financial resources to support people. Intergovernmental Relations led the City's strategy to secure Federal and State funds in partnerships, such the Too Local to Fail Coalition, and successfully lobbied for hundreds of millions of dollars in direct support. These supports came mostly from the CARES Act programs with additional grants from the State of Minnesota and Hennepin County.

Pandemic Business and Unemployment Supports

Business supports exceeded $3 billion. While the bulk of this support was in the form of Paycheck Protection Program loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, State loans, and the County’s use of it CARES Act funding, the City was able to provide supports. Starting in March, the City expanded contracts to 11 Business Technical Assistance Program (BTAP) providers and 5 professional service (legal, accounting, marketing) entities. Our BTAP service providers have the cultural competence to reach businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). These important partnerships provided more than 3,400 hours of direct assistance to almost 800 business, with 75% BIPOC-owned businesses. This assistance provided direct advice on how to weather the pandemic and increased awareness of County, State, and Federal funding programs. Overall, Minneapolis businesses performed very well in funding program, and in most programs, Minneapolis exceeded our expected per-capita share of funding. The City was able to directly assist with supports for revenue losses with $1.55 million in forgivable loans to 173 businesses, $1.59 million in business license fee waiver for over 1,500 licenses. In addition to these waivers, 125 restaurants received no-cost outdoor dining permits, and 111 food pick-up zones.

People in Minneapolis filed more than 144,000 unemployment insurance claims to receive benefits of half of a person’s wage up-to-$740-per-week. Until the end of July, people filing for unemployment received an additional $600-per-week from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, including and benefits for those who do not qualify (gig-workers, sole proprieties, many micro-businesses, and non-traditional businesses) for conventional unemployment benefits. The Federal top-off accounted for over $25 million-per-week in aggregate income for city residents at the time of the program’s end. To offset two acutely impacted sectors, the City provided $125,000 in one-time direct assistance to either employees in the hospitality industry ($100,000) or targeted technical assistance for artist ($25,000) who lost event business at the start of Stay-at-Home order in the Spring. Summary tables below shows supports to businesses from each level of government.

2020 COVID 19 Business Technical Assistance Results*

Total Contract Amount


Businesses Served


Hours of Technical Assistance


BIPOC owners

583 (75%)

*As of 12/18/2020


Minneapolis Funding Levels


City of Minneapolis

Forgivable Loan for Small Business

173 businesses in Minneapolis received $1.55M in forgivable loans of either $5,000 or $10,000


License fee waiver

The City waived 1,509 business licenses in 2020 totaling more than $1.59 million in savings to business


Business District Support Grants

The City increased its annual allocation for community-based organizations to $900,000 in support of 22 organizations to provide community building and livability activities


Hospitality Fund

500 people laid-off in the hospitality industry $100,000 in $200 grants to cover expenses through a partnership with Minneapolis Labor Federation


Artist Supports

Minneapolis artists who experienced cancelations due to the Stay at Home order received tailored technical assistance from Springboard for the Arts.


Hennepin County

Small Business Relief Grant (Through September)

914 businesses in Minneapolis received $7.06M in grants, 51% of the funds distributed


State of MN DEED

Small Business Emergency Loan (forgivable loan)

151 businesses in Minneapolis received ~$4.2M; more than half of the total amount that went to Hennepin County (~$7M).


Cultural Mall Operator Grants

9 of the 12 grants went to Minneapolis cultural mall operators, $1.9M of $2.5M


Small Business Relief Grant

Data not yet available

Small Business Administration

Paycheck Protection Program

13,447 businesses in Minneapolis received between $1.8 and $3.9 billion in PPP loans, including over 10,000 businesses that received $150,000 or less

$1,800,000,000 to $3,900,000,000

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance (EIDL)

Data not yet available on a city level

*as of various dates, aggregated on 1/4/2021

Housing Supports

The City launched its Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing emergency housing assistance program in April, making $3 million available to assist low income renter households with rent and utility payments. These funds provided critical gap emergency funding before federal CARES funds were made available first by Hennepin County, and later by the State. Like the City’s approach to the public health response and business support, the city coordinated housing supports with community-based organizations and other levels of governments. Strategies to support housing centered on keeping people housed or finding shelter and supports for those unhoused in the community. This support included direct rent support, legal assistance for residents facing eviction or involuntary displacement, foreclosure prevention counseling services, a coordinated homeless response, and continued funding for the construction of new permanently affordable housing. The City partnered with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and the following community based organizations to deliver the $3 million in the Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing program: Tenant Resource Center, Catholic Charities, CAPI USA, Centro Tyrone Guzman, Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES), COPAL, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, New American Development Center, NorthPoint Health and Wellness, St. Stephens Human Services, and the YMCA of the North. More than 1,600 households, 84% of which are BIPOC, received Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing program assistance.

  1. City provided $1.5 million in grant funds through the Housing Stabilization Pilot program to support housing stabilization services for tenants in 1-to-4-unit rental properties to the following organizations: InquilinXs UnidXs Por Justica, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research, Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, the Nia Project, Lutheran Social Services, Urban Homeworks, and Al-Maa'uun. The City awarded a new $1.2 million contract to Mid Minnesota Legal Aid to provide legal services to Minneapolis renters facing eviction or displacement related to habitability issues. The City provided $300,000 in increased support for the Minnesota Homeownership Center to support foreclosure prevention services provided by multiple non-profit organizations.

Homeless Response

Minneapolis has experienced an unprecedented growth in homeless encampments since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order protecting the rights and health of at-risk populations during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. It prohibits the disbandment of homeless encampments on public land but was later clarified to allow for disbandment where there are documented public health or safety risks. Prior to the executive order, the largest encampment in the City was fewer than 10 tents.

A cross department team of CPED, Health, MPD, City Attorney, and Public Works with external partners from Hennepin County and the Park Board monitored and supported encampments. This team provided outreach and public health supports to those living in the encampments, including making multiple visits to each location, placing more than 30 hygiene stations throughout the city for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and providing daily solid waste and recycling removal services. The hygiene stations include portable toilets, handwashing stations, sharps containers and trash receptacles. The City increased funding to expand street outreach teams, who, along with Hennepin County Healthcare for the Homeless, County outreach staff, and MPD Homeless and Vulnerable Persons Initiative team, connect people experiencing unsheltered homelessness with resources, services, shelter and housing.

A broad coalition of government agencies, nonprofit and philanthropic partners are currently operating the largest and safest emergency shelter system that has ever existed in Hennepin County as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These collective efforts have thus far allowed us to avoid the devastating impacts COVID-19 has had on people experiencing homelessness in other cities.

The City joined county, state, philanthropy and non-profit partners to invest a total of $55 million to expand emergency shelter, low-barrier housing and protective housing for people experiencing homelessness, as well as enhance existing shelters and expand support services, rapid rehousing, and street outreach. The City’s portion of this investment is $13,400,000. These partnerships, a new City emergency shelter ordinance adopted in December, and extensive technical assistance provided by City staff resulted in four new emergency shelters opening in late 2020, and another 36-bed facility starting construction. The shelters include Homeward Bound (designed to serve Native American adults), Indoor Villages, Salvation Army emergency shelter for women, Simpson Housing emergency shelter and Exodus 2 medical respite shelter (under construction).

The solution to homelessness is housing, and thanks to historic high levels of City investment in affordable housing, an additional 284 units of City- and/or County-assisted affordable housing designated for people experiencing homelessness opened in 2020, and another 350 units are under construction. As a result of these new units, turnover in existing homeless-designated units, and other assistance provided by city, county, state and nonprofit partners, more than 1,500 people experiencing homelessness secured permanent housing in 2020.

The City is exploring a new single room occupancy ordinance to further expand permanent housing options for persons experiencing homelessness.

The summary table below shows housing supports and homeless response deployed by the City.

Housing Supports and Homeless Response*

Dollar value of Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing assistance


Number of renters receiving housing assistance (Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing only)

1,642 renter households assisted

% BIPOC Minneapolis renters receiving housing assistance


Dollar value of other housing assistance and evictions prevention grants to non-profit providers for advocacy and housing stabilization assistance, legal representation, and foreclosure prevention counseling


Dollar value of investments in homelessness response


($10.9 million under contract; $2.5 million out in RFP and currently in selection process)

Number of encampments formed in Minneapolis

More than 100

Number of new shelter beds

200 opened before end of December; an additional 30 open in 2021

Number of new outreach teams/staff

4 new staff on 2 additional teams

Number of new permanent housing units designated for persons experiencing homelessness online in 2020 or closing Q1 2021


*as of various dates, aggregated on 1/4/2021

Unrest Response and Recovery

The events after the death of Mr. George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody will have a generational impact on Minneapolis. While we will have the task to address historical trauma, racism, economic inequalities, and demands for a more just and equitable city, the City had to respond to the aftermath of the protests. Over the events of late-May-to-early-June and from late-August, protest activity impacted more than 1000 buildings, displacing or disrupting hundreds of businesses and a handful of residences, and an untold number of workers. While an exact figure will likely never be known, based on assessor data and preliminary insurance reports to the State Department of Commerce there was more than $350 million in damages to property and impacts to businesses and residents.

Public Works immediately responded to the damages. It provided equipment and personnel to collect and remove tons of debris, assisted on emergency demolitions, cleared the streets and repaired public infrastructure, and provided traffic controls. The Food Insecurity Task Force hosted regular virtual convenings for community food relief organizers, both traditional food shelves and new community led pop-up relief efforts and provided direct access to food.  The Health department and NCR Partnering with local food banks, the City managed a community food distribution site in partnership with MPRB, Second Harvest Heartland, the Food Group, Corcoran Neighborhood Organization and community organizers at Powderhorn Park, later moved to Corcoran Park, with nearly $90,000 support from the Hunger Solutions COVID Food Fund Grant and providing food for up to 800 families per week.

The Health department worked with community pop up sites to maintain food safety while continuing to allow the community led food relief to happen. The City developed a new food distribution site permit to regulate this type of activity.

During the three-day canvas of damages coordinated by OEM with support from CPED, Regulatory Services, and the Assessor, the City found a total 1,025 impacted buildings of which 53 were destroyed, 31 sustained major damage, 56 sustained minor damage, and the remaining 885 were affected. The Assessor completed a reevaluation of 998 of these properties to find a reduction of $42 million in value which will reduce property tax obligations for these property owners. Staff expedited and waived fees for utility shut-off, demolition permits, and other related permits to aid in response and recovery saving applicants more than $97,000. The City approved an ordinance amendment repealing the ban on exterior security barriers facing public streets and started Rebuild Resilient a program to increase energy efficiency improvements in buildings that were impacted by the unrest. Finally, the Mayor and City Council approved $2,000,000 in funds to support City-conducted rubble removal for approximately 18 properties. Working with the property owners, each of these sites will be cleared in early to mid-2021. The summary table below shows data on fee waivers and supports after the unrest.

Unrest Related Fee Waivers, Resources, and Saving*

Number of wrecking/demolition permit fees waived (w/associated erosion control permits)


Dollar value of wrecking/demolition permit fees waived (w/associated erosion control permits)


Number of land use application fees waived


Dollar value of land use application fees waived


Dollar value of Sewer, Water & Excavation permit fees waived


Number of commercial properties with utility fees waived (civil unrest impact only)


Dollar value of utility bill payments waived for commercial properties


Number of license waivers and refunds for licensed businesses damaged in the unrest


Dollar value of license waivers and refunds for licensed businesses damaged in the unrest


Dollars available for City-conducted rubble removal


Properties reassessed


Total estimated market value reviewed


Dollar value of administrative fees on boarded buildings waived


Number commercial registration fees waived

75 properties

Dollar amount commercial registration fees waived


Dollar amount of rental license fees waived (2 properties)


Number of (taxable) properties that qualified for a tax abatement (met 50% threshold)


Dollar value of total reduction in property value (for 60 properties where taxes have been abated as of 12/18/20)


Dollar value of property taxes reduced due to reassessment


*as of various dates, aggregated on 12/29/2020

  • No fiscal impact anticipated