Improve Public Health

We must work with our partners at Hennepin County to expand healthcare access to all Minneapolis residents. In Minneapolis, individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction issues face housing insecurity, difficulty maintaining employment, and are compelled to commit crimes at higher rates. Further, to address violence in our communities, we must understand it as a public health epidemic.

Healthcare

Background

While the Affordable Care Act has drastically reduced the number of uninsured Minnesotans, 2% of residents still do not have any health coverage, and hundreds of thousands more are facing undue cost increases. Additionally, our city’s undocumented community faces unique barriers accessing healthcare—they are often forced to wait until an emergency room visit is required. We can not wait for the federal government to fix our broken healthcare system. We must work with our partners at Hennepin County to expand healthcare access to all Minneapolis residents.

Vision and Priorities

  1. Expand access to healthcare: Minneapolis must lead the way in the fight for healthcare reform by partnering with Hennepin County to build a healthcare system that serves all residents of our city and county—not just through emergency room visits, but through preventative, patient-centric care. We need to study the feasibility of Minneapolis assisting our residents’ access to health care—like Healthy San Francisco, a program where everyone living up to 500% of the poverty line within the city limits has the ability to receive healthcare, regardless of immigration status.
  2. Increase preventative care through intentional outreach: Because thousands of residents in our city—in addition to our undocumented community—do not have access to health insurance, and many more aren’t able to pay exorbitant amounts to cover emergency room bills. When creating greater access, we must focus on the need for preventative care. Not only does this create healthier communities, it lessens the long-term financial burden on the city of Minneapolis.
  3. Fight for Medicare for All: Increasing access to medical care is not a replacement for health insurance. Hennepin County can lead the way for the rest of Minnesota towards creating a single-payer healthcare system. I will collaborate with allies at the county-, metropolitan-, state-, and federal-level to build the movement towards single-payer healthcare.

Treat Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction impact Minneapolis on individual and systemic levels. In Minneapolis, individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction issues face housing insecurity, difficulty maintaining employment, and are compelled to commit crimes at higher rates.

Background

Currently, Minneapolis has no long-term plan to address substance abuse and addiction in our city. Our current focus is on reporting suspected drug activity and recognizing drug houses, rather than accessing treatment. In order to improve public safety and decrease rates of incarceration, we need to prevent addiction. Following national best practices, we will develop intergovernmental prevention and rehabilitation-centered solutions to decrease rates of substance abuse and addiction.

Read my Commentary in the Star Tribune.

ACTION

  1. Conduct a city report on Minneapolis’ substance abuse and addiction problems
  2. Create a Substance Abuse and Treatment Advisory Committee
  3. Add a substance and drug abuse professional to the Chief’s Citizen Advisory Council
  4. Review and amend our City of Minneapolis Pre-Employment Drug & Alcohol Test Policy to develop a pathway to rehabilitation for existing employees or treatment for new employees
  5. Develop rehabilitation-centric policies for the Minneapolis Police Department for working with offenders facing substance abuse and addiction
  6. Partner with Hennepin County to support providers and better fund services
  7. Improve data collection on rates of substance abuse, addiction and recovery
  8. Strengthen legislative priorities for substance abuse to the 2018 Legislative Agenda
  9. Work with Neighborhood Associations to develop best practices for connecting community members in need with treatment programs
  10. Implement a living wage and increase affordable housing

Prevent Violence in our Communities

Background

To address violence in our communities, we must understand it as a public health epidemic. Violence is learned from exposure to trauma, stress, and aggravated behavior. Policing and incarceration are reactions to violence, not solutions. This approach only provides the appearance of community safety; the original causes of crime and violence remain.

Vision and Priorities

Our vision must focus on mitigating the complex, interconnected causes of violence in our community—intergenerational poverty, lack of access to mental health services, circulation of guns, prevalence of substance abuse, experienced trauma, and aggressive masculinity.

We must also pursue immediate remedies—partnering with and funding trained teams of community members to de-escalate potentially violent situations, providing adequate mental health and counseling resources in schools, collaborating with Hennepin County to invest in diversionary programs, and decrease the number of guns circulating in our communities.

  1. Prioritize preventative violence and transformative justice models: Mass incarceration has created perpetual cycles of violence, poverty, and criminalization primarily in communities of color. As a city, we must work to disrupt these cycles by applying models of violence prevention that have worked in other cities.
    • Support the creation of unarmed community-led teams to intervene and de-escalate in situations before they become violent
    • Work to reintegrate returning-citizens (felons) back into society by ending housing discrimination, connections to employment, and social services
    • Keep people out of the criminal justice system by decriminalizing low-level and ‘livability’ offenses
    • Collaborate with leaders at the state-level to reduce mandatory minimum sentencing
    • Fund diversionary and transformative justice programs for low-level offenses as an alternative to jail-time
    • Connect victims and survivors of violence, and their loved ones to community and social services
  2. Reduce the number of guns circulating in our communities: Republicans are working at the Capitol to deregulate the gun industry—such policies endanger our communities. Meanwhile, regressive policies have gained support on both sides of the aisle. Draconian mandatory minimum sentencing and stop-and-frisk policing further criminalize people of color and Indigenous (POCI) communities. Our strategy toward gun violence prevention must not criminalize communities.
    • Use the legislative agenda to fight efforts to pass “Stand Your Ground” and permit-less carry, and fight for comprehensive background checks—including closing loopholes for private merchants, online sales, and gun shows
    • Fund a city program to provide free gun locks to prevent accidental gun injuries and deaths. Minneapolis can look to Ramsey County for a model.
  3. Create safe, supportive environment for youth in Minneapolis: Many youth in our city grow up hungry, without shelter, and burdened with trauma. We need to create safe and healthy environments for young people, disrupt intergenerational trauma, and provide alternative pathways for reconciliation outside of our criminal justice system.
    • Ensure all youth in Minneapolis are housed in a safe, affordable housing. Read my full plan here.
    • Fully fund mental health, social work, and counseling services in our schools
    • Provide training programs with school staff and faculty around implicit biases, cultural competency, community trauma, de-escalation, and intervention
    • Collaborate with the Youth Coordinating Board to expand summer youth employment opportunities, and quality out-of-school programming
  4. Utilize design to intentionally create safe physical spaces: As a Bush Fellow, I studied the relationship of built environments and how they impact the health of communities. We need to be intentional with our use of public space to not only create aesthetically vibrant neighborhoods, but also to increase public safety.
    • Stagger bar closing times to prevent a mass of people flooding onto the streets at 2:00 AM
    • Convert vacant and unused lots into green space
    • Increase the number of “shot spotters” in high-activation areas, and equip them with cameras only activated when shots are fired
    • Improve night-time illumination throughout the city