Minneapolis mayor proposes more investment in public safety, affordable housing

People speak in front of a podium.
Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a press conference for improving public safety at Urban League Twin Cities in north Minneapolis, Minn., in June.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey on Monday announced his proposal for the 2023 city budget which includes more than $3 billion in spending over two years, or $1.66 billion in 2023 and $1.71 billion in 2024.

“Since the start of the pandemic, cuts have been required to keep the boat afloat and our city moving,” Frey said. “This year, we’re focusing on the services you can and should count on now.”

Frey highlighted his intent to increase spending on public safety and affordable housing, among other priorities. He wants to create a new Office of Community Safety that includes police, fire, emergency management, 911 and neighborhood safety.

His budget proposal includes funding for additional law enforcement for a total of 731 sworn police officers in 2023, plus an additional nearly $9 million in overtime and $1.5 million for contracting with other law enforcement entities.

“I've been consistent in my message. We need officers, and we need them to reflect the values of our city. I've been pushing an aggressive plan for recruitment and retention to rebuild our officer ranks as well as strengthen community trust in the Minneapolis Police Department,” Frey said.

The mayor is also suggesting the city expand its behavioral crisis response team, investing more than four million over two years to provide the city with round-the-clock mental health response services from teams operating out of five vans.

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He also wants $5 million to fulfill potential consent decrees. In April the Minnesota Department of Human Rights issued a report detailing its findings that the Minneapolis Police Department had engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination.

MDHR wants to negotiate a consent decree with the city, which would require MPD to make specific changes to policies and practices. The decree would be enforced by the courts and overseen by an independent monitor. The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating the Minneapolis Police Department.

“All we can do is prepare. That means reserving funds in the next two years,” Frey said. “We have an interdisciplinary team working tirelessly to make sure we are ready to hit the ground running.”

Frey also highlighted plans to invest in affordable housing. He’s planning increases from $15 million to $18 million over the next two years for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, putting close to $3 million in the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and allocating $500,000 to provide legal help for renters facing eviction.

“Affordable housing is — and probably will always be — my passion in service,” Frey said. “It is now a core service in our city, not just as a one-time change item when money is plentiful. People need an affordable home, especially when economic times are tight.”

In this year’s proposal Frey recommends creating a one-time abortion fund that, if adopted by the city council, would allocate $300,000 to support abortion access in the city of Minneapolis.

This follows other cities, like Chicago and New York, which have allocated money to support reproductive care.

“The recent overturn of Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves across our country. And while Minnesota provides statutory protection for pregnant people, it is incumbent on all of us to step up even more,” Frey said.

Last month, the abortion fund Our Justice along with two Minneapolis city councilmembers and Pro-Choice Minnesota  launched a campaign to push the Mayor to create such a fund, gathering public support through an online petition.

Frey is proposing to pay for his plan with a 6.5 percent levy increase in 2023, and a 6.2 percent increase in 2024. The proposal has moved to committee and will undergo several public hearings before the council votes on the budget in December.