City Minimum Wages

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sues Minneapolis over $15 minimum wage, By Emma Nelson, November 10, 2017, Star Tribune: “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is taking the city of Minneapolis to court over the $15 minimum wage, saying the ordinance conflicts with existing state law…”
  • San Diego has fined businesses $60,000 over minimum wage violations, By David Garrick, November 10, 2017, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Investigators enforcing San Diego’s minimum wage law have handled more than 500 complaints against 70 businesses and levied nearly $60,000 in fines since the law took effect last year. City officials say those numbers will increase as outreach efforts make more people aware that San Diego’s hourly minimum wage of $11.50 is higher than the state minimum of $10 for small businesses and $10.50 for large ones…”

Star Tribune Series on Poverty

  • Taking risks to pursue the American dream, By Adam Belz, December 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “Ethrophic Burnett escaped the South Side of Chicago, moved to Minneapolis ‘to have a life for my kids’ — and wound up in a social experiment.  In the late 1990s, when the oldest of her children were just in elementary school, her family was one of hundreds that was moved to the Twin Cities suburbs as the result of a federal fair housing lawsuit. Her children thrived, she said. They developed new ambitions that otherwise might have seemed distant.  Then, three years ago, as her oldest daughter entered college, Burnett lost eligibility for the home she was living in and moved the family back to the poorest area of Minneapolis…”
  • Prosperity grows out of small-town America, By Adam Belz, December 29, 2016, Star Tribune: “Sylvia Hilgeman grew up no-frills on a farm in Red Lake County in northwest Minnesota, where flat fields are broken by steel grain bins, stands of aspen and abandoned farmhouses.  Her dad cultivated rented land and her mom raised cattle and milked cows at a neighboring farm to help pay the bills. They raised their children in a double-wide mobile home across a gravel driveway from her great-uncle’s homestead. ‘My parents, they worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met,’ Hilgeman said. The work paid off for their children. Sylvia went to college, got a job in accounting and later joined the FBI. Today, she investigates white collar crime in New York City…”
  • Poor forced to make extreme choices as affordable homes erode, By Adam Belz, December 30, 2016, Star Tribune: “Kendrick Bates fought his way out of poverty to within two semesters of a bachelor’s degree. Now he needs an apartment. He’s been accepted at a college in suburban Roseville, but he hasn’t been able to find a home in a good neighborhood that he can afford. Bates, who now lives near the southern Minnesota town of New Ulm with his two daughters, grew up in poverty in Mississippi and is wary of the trade-offs of urban life. He is looking beyond the metro area and likes Stillwater, Hudson and New Richmond in Wisconsin…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Section 8 Housing – Minneapolis, MN

Proposal would open more Minneapolis apartments to Section 8 housing vouchers, By Eric Roper, May 11, 2016, Star Tribune: “Landlords can be picky about pets, credit scores and rental history, but Minneapolis officials are looking to bar another common stipulation of apartment listings: ‘No Section 8.’  A proposal by two City Council members would make Minneapolis the first city in the metro area to say landlords cannot turn away tenants solely for paying rent with government housing vouchers. A preliminary meeting with landlords about the idea is slated for Thursday, with a tenant-focused public meeting on Friday.  Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, a co-author of the ordinance, said rejecting applicants who are using vouchers makes unfair generalizations about the program and those who rely on it…”

Homelessness in Minneapolis, MN

Homelessness increases despite decade-long push to end it in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, By Steve Brandt, February 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A decadelong quest to end homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County has yielded discouraging results: The number of people without homes hasn’t dropped. It has risen. There are 231 more homeless people — living in the streets, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing — in Hennepin County in the final year of the push than when it began in 2007. Last year’s count found 3,125 homeless people in the county, which accounts for two of every five homeless Minnesotans. Homeless counts also are up statewide for the same period, despite an 11 percent drop nationally…”

Homeless Shelters – Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis may free homeless shelters from worship spaces, By Jessica Lee, February 15, 2015, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Minneapolis officials are looking to scrap a decades-old law that requires emergency homeless shelters to be housed in places of worship.  The change would free shelter operators to relocate, expand and provide more suitable accommodations for families and individuals. ‘I’d like to be able to [have beds] in buildings that are meant for human habitation, which are, by definition, not church basements,’ said Stephen Horsfield, executive director at Simpson Housing Services in Minneapolis…”

Rapid Rehousing – Minneapolis, MN

Hennepin County increases funding to meet escalating homelessness, By Rochelle Olson, July 21, 2013, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Nita Wagner was starting to feel more hopeful about her life. She’d been sober for two years, was collecting $800 in monthly child support payments from her toddler’s dad and had settled into a one-bedroom apartment in northeast Minneapolis. But then the payments abruptly stopped, leaving her scrambling to find a way to pay her August rent. ‘For this to be happening and stay straight, this is a challenge,’ said Wagner, who at 37 has drug addiction, prostitution and domestic violence in her past. ‘I won’t cave. I won’t give up, but it sickens me to know we might be going backward.’ Such abrupt and wrenching setbacks are all too familiar to families such as Wagner’s. Now they’re getting extra help from an intensive Hennepin County housing program administered through St. Stephen’s Human Services…”

Access to Assistance Centers – Minneapolis, MN

Hennepin County moves social services out into community, By Julie Siple, February 13, 2013, Minnesota Public Radio: “A $40 million project in Hennepin County will bring government help closer to the people who need it. For two decades, county residents seeking assistance with food, money or health care have gone to the county’s main financial assistance center in downtown Minneapolis. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people visit the building every month. Hennepin County has a five-year plan to close that center and move services closer to clients by building six regional hubs, the first of which has been up and running for about four months in Brooklyn Center…”

Low-Income Neighborhoods and Farmers Markets – Minneapolis, MN

Mini farmers markets thrive in low-income Minneapolis neighborhoods, By Madeleine Baran, July 20, 2010, Minnesota Public Radio: “Tim Page has broken up concrete, chased away woodchucks, and battled an overflowing sewer with one purpose in mind — to create a farmers market to bring fresh produce to north Minneapolis residents. The Streetwerks Youth Farmers Market opened two weeks ago in the parking lot of a former gas station, after a year of work, and with the help of a team of young adults from the neighborhood. On the market’s second day of business, three teenagers picked vegetables from a nearby garden, set up a tent on the cracked asphalt parking lot, and waited for customers. As rain began to fall, an elderly woman walked up to buy a basket of okra. The newly minted farmers helped her pick the best batch while cars zipped by along the industrial stretch of Glenwood Avenue. ‘I saw the potential here,’ Page, 47, said, surveying the community gardens across the street from the market. ‘You know how you want to be part of a success? This feels pretty good right now.’ The Streetwerks market is part of a growing movement to open small-scale farmers markets in low-income Minneapolis neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce. Organizers say the markets are starting to transform the diets — and the economy — of some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods…”

Teenage Homelessness – Minnesota

Out at home: Teenage homelessness on the rise, By Paul Levy, April 19, 2010, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Suddenly, homeless teenagers are all over the Twin Cities — cities and suburbs alike — sleeping in port-a-potties and cars, camping under bridges or riding buses all night. ‘Part of it is the economy, but we’re also doing a better job of identifying who is homeless,’ said Karrie Schaaf, considered a state expert on youth homelessness in the metro area. ‘And now that times are hard economically, they’re coming out of the woodwork.’ Some are children of economically stressed families that have been forced to double up with other families; they simply don’t have room to house older kids, said Schaaf, youth director for the Emma B. Howe Family YMCA in Coon Rapids. Others were evicted from their homes on their 18th birthdays by struggling families facing foreclosure, said Judy Johnson, housing supervisor in Anoka County. In Minnesota, the number of 18- to 21-year-olds in shelters more than doubled in the past three years, rising from 455 in 2006 to 987 last October, the Minnesota Department of Human Services said. In Anoka County, the homeless 18-21 population doubled in the past year alone, according to a January survey…”

Suburban Poverty – Twin Cities, MN

Poverty is hitting the suburbs with more sting, By Mary Jane Smetanka, March 6, 2010, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “In a startling shift, Twin Cities suburbs now have more poor people than the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Job losses, foreclosures and disappearing insurance coverage have pushed requests for food stamps, medical assistance and emergency housing aid to record levels. Homeless numbers are rising. Food shelves are scrambling to meet demand. It’s a trend mirrored in suburbs across the nation, where a recent study found that suburban poverty has grown five times faster than it has in big cities. Worst hit are single moms and unskilled workers whose finances were shaky before the economy dipped. But financial stress reaches well into the middle class…”

Food Stamp Program Enrollment

  • Hard times, hard choices: The decision to go on food stamps, By Jim Spencer, December 6, 2009, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Three years ago, the National Republican Congressional Committee gave Ini Augustine a Congressional Medal of Distinction, recognizing her prospering temporary-employment business. Today, Augustine is among tens of thousands of Minnesotans forced on to food stamps for the first time by a recession that first imploded the stock market and now has exploded stereotypes of welfare recipients. ‘I’ve been working since I was 13,’ Augustine, 28, said. ‘I never had trouble finding a job.’ Until now…”
  • In Twin Cities, foods stamps are feeding the suburbs, By Jason Hoppin and MaryJo Webster, December 7, 2009, Pioneer Press: “Off carefully planned streets and behind manicured lawns, welfare is increasingly putting food on the dinner tables of Minnesota’s suburban families. As job losses batter Minnesota’s economy – 70 percent of the state’s $1.2 billion deficit is attributed to lost wages – the use of food stamps, called Food Support in Minnesota, is on the rise. But a look at the numbers shows that while the use of food stamps is still most prevalent in the urban core, it is in the suburbs where their use is rising the fastest. Both wealthier and less diverse than other parts of the state, the suburbs are often perceived to be free of the ills that gnaw at bigger cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul. But over the past decade, that has started to change…”
  • Number of S.J. residents receiving food assistance up by thousands, By Zachary K. Johnson, December 7, 2009, Stockton Record: “Thousands more county residents now receive food assistance every month than did just a year ago, mirroring a nationwide climb in the number of people receiving federal food stamps benefits. In October, 77,814 county residents benefited from the program, an 18 percent increase from the 65,861 residents in October 2008, according to San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, which administers the program. The number of people in the program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has been rising steadily since at least July 2008, when the number of people getting the benefit was at 63,520…”
  • Under-use of program costs county millions, By Zachary K. Johnson, December 7, 2009, Stockton Record: “Up to 142,000 people in San Joaquin County struggle to afford enough to eat, but many of them are not receiving federal assistance to help put food on the table, according to reports recently released by a statewide advocacy group. If everyone eligible for food stamps benefits in the county received them, another $46.8 million in federal money would flow into the county each year, according to the California Food Policy Advocates. But the impact would be greater, generating $86 million in economic activity as food stamp beneficiaries spend more money, according to the group’s Lost Dollars, Empty Plates report released last month…”

Self-governed Schools – Minneapolis, MN

‘New schools’ to serve poor students proposed, By Emily Johns, November 18, 2009, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “The Minneapolis school board will get a chance next month to give its blessing to the creation of up to five autonomous schools in the city. The district hopes the schools, some of which wouldn’t be run by the district, could more effectively educate poor students and be a lab for innovation regarding what works in urban education. ‘There are a number of new autonomous schools across the country that have demonstrated tremendous success with economically disadvantaged children,’ said Jon Bacal, who heads the district’s new Office of New Schools. ‘The end result should be a high-quality learning program for Minneapolis children.’ The Office of New Schools is an effort to address quality issues in the lowest-performing 25 percent of the district’s schools. Converting one of these schools to a “new school” is one method; others include changing leadership, school staff or curriculums…”