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St. Paul program provides rent assistance to families in need

Plus: the Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement; Q&A with Rep. Ilhan Omar; St. Paul police use social media to help identify rioting suspects; and more.

Keeping families in their homes. MPR’s Nina Moini reports: “A St. Paul housing assistance program started before the coronavirus pandemic is keeping some families in their homes, and officials want to know if it could help in ways that other housing assistance does not. … The city of St. Paul teams up with the school district to identify 250 families who may be at risk of losing their homes. Those families receive a $300 monthly rent supplement and supportive services, such as career readiness training, advocacy and mediation help, and housing mentorship. The program is funded with city and nonprofit funds for three years.”

On the future of the Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement. The Star Tribune’s Miguel Otárola writes: “Elected officials called them disobedient. Social workers said they’re inexperienced. Neighbors saw them as rabble-rousers. … Through it all, the Minneapolis Sanctuary Movement has persisted. What was born out of a mad dash to find shelter for the homeless while the city burned has turned into a loose coalition of locals, many of them young and out of work during the pandemic, seeking to help some of the most vulnerable people in the Twin Cities. … They have looked after those staying in parks and hotels, delivering food and running security. They have stood in the way of officers brought in to clear tents. They have connected with other social justice groups, organizing marches and protests. … Those who identify with the movement say the conventional ways of helping the homeless have not worked. They are now moving past their origins as on-the-ground volunteers by calling on the state to stop clearing encampments and use coronavirus relief funding to house more people in hotels during the winter.

Big Q&A in the New York Times with Rep. Ilhan Omar. Here’s an excerpt (questions are in bold; Omar’s answers are regular weight):What do you make of the way that part of the larger political conversation has been shifting toward one centered on ‘law and order’ and away from racial injustice and racial equality? I’ve always been baffled by the ways in which Democrats and the media have adopted the messaging narratives of the Republican Party. This is one of the greatest examples of that. We have an ability as a party to stay with the narrative of what the root causes of these demonstrations are: the social and economic neglect that many brown and Black people have experienced in this country, the need to address police brutality and our ability to create proper investments in communities. We are not as disciplined and as confident in our base, in our policies, and that’s why you see the challenges to people who are progressive as soon as they get a national platform. Our party is running from its own shadow. It’s afraid of its own ability to resonate with the American people. We have allowed the Republicans to reduce our messages to their messages, which makes us fight on their battleground. I don’t know what is wrong with the political consultants that are advising any of these people, but it is quite devastating to see that this is where the conversation has gone. ”

Crowdsourced crime solving. The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried reports: “At one St. Paul liquor store that was burglarized, looted and set on fire in May, hundreds of people stole items in a nearly seven-hour period. An insurance adjuster estimated $300,000 worth of inventory was taken. … Prosecutors recently charged a 23-year-old St. Paul woman with felony burglary, saying she entered Snelling Avenue Fine Wines six times and left with stolen merchandise in each instance. She’s also accused of burglarizing the Walgreens on Grand Avenue and Big Top Liquors and Sun Foods at University Avenue and Dale Street the same day. … Since the St. Paul Police Department’s Civil Unrest Investigative Taskforce began its work, the Ramsey County attorney’s office has brought charges in more than 60 cases, including against the 23-year-old woman. Approximately 40 more cases are in the pipeline for charging, said Cmdr. Axel Henry, who leads the task force. … The St. Paul task force previously released surveillance photos of suspects and asked the public for tips, and in recent weeks they’ve doubled down on those efforts. The department is regularly posting suspect photos on social media and requesting people with information to come forward.”

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