Courtesy of Ward 9 Council Member Jason Chavez:
I wanted to share a quick update regarding a community meeting in East Phillips I attended on March 31, 2022. It was in regards to a humane and equitable response to encampments and homelessness. Over 100 residents attended with ideas to support our unhoused neighbors
On June 30, 2022, Council Member Aisha Chughtai and myself announced a formal intent to work on an encampment policy for the City of Minneapolis. This notice of intent is the first step in the process to start a humane-centered approach. After years of advocacy from both unhoused and housed neighbors, we have started that process because we deserve something better.
On July 19, 2022, we will be meeting with the Community Planning and Economic Development Department and Regulatory Services to discuss a framework for this policy. Over the coming weeks, we will be giving updates and setting up a process for engagement so the City has a humane, public health centered, and dignified response.
Many people currently experiencing unsheltered homelessness are not ready to go inside or simply want to be outside. There aren't enough low barrier, trauma-informed, culturally specific beds for those who would consider and would like to utilize emergency shelter indoors. On July, 27, 2022, I will be meeting with the Community Planning and Economic Development Department, Regulatory Services, and the Health Department to discuss a safe outdoor space proposal. Where we can have regulated, safe, and staffed spaces.
Community members asked for a script that is more informative, constructive, and humane when receiving calls about our unhoused neighbors and being appropriately staffed. I met with 311 and we discussed ways the Ward 9 Office could be most helpful. Current wait times vary but are down significantly from 4 and a half minutes in 2021 to roughly 2 minutes so far in July of 2022. This is largely due to 311 staffing levels beginning to stabilize.
Moving forward, 311’s first priority is to reach their full budgeted staffing level. At present, they have 26 agents, 6 of them are in training. They would like to reach a staffing level of 29 agents. Simultaneously, they will be implementing a new interactive voice response system. This will allow them to route calls according to type, which will allow us to more fully utilize our agents in training.
To alleviate the burden of waiting to be connected to an agent, they have implemented a callback feature. When call volume or wait times reach a certain threshold, customers will receive an option to receive a call back. They can follow the prompts and be put into a queue for an agent to call them back rather than having to wait on hold for and using minutes.
Emailing 311 at firstname.lastname@example.org is also a great option. Our service level agreement is within 24 hours during the workweek. We have been averaging about 4 business hours to return an email.
I am working with the Community Planning and Economic Development Department to designate a seat for the Lived Experience Advisory Group for the Housing Advisory Committee and giving priority to people with lived experience of homelessness for the residents' seats component on this committee. This should be expected before the council in August.