In anticipation of the next major political struggle, affordable lawyers in Minneapolis have found an unexpected ally in the city's police chief.

Chief Medaria Arradondo devoted himself to the social affairs that he spent outside his office, and other urban officials argued that housing the weakest and most needy citizens of the city is not only a moral obligation, but also a matter of public safety.

Last year's trip to the medium-security prison in Faribault was a feast for the eyes of Arradondo. Since he was invited by a childhood friend who is serving a jail sentence for murder, he went to the visit, expecting to be grilled for race and police brutality. Instead, the discussions largely revolved around the urgent lack of affordable housing for prisoners, Arradondo said.

"When he reached out to me, it was really important for me to go up there and listen to and learn from many of these young men from my city, who are from Minneapolis, and hear their stories," he said said in an interview.

The inmates also warned that the fight to search for shelter for the prison had driven some of their colleagues into their criminal ways.

"And you will regard it as a crisis of crime and disorder, but it is really a crisis of demand," recalled Arradondo when they said it. "If you have a crisis in housing, you have a crisis in humanity."

The boss's support comes after supporters celebrated the passing of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in 2019 over the past month, with $ 40 million earmarked for affordable housing. Meanwhile, the city council has agreed to a major change to the city's comprehensive plan, which will allow for higher-density development, which some see as a way to alleviate a deepening housing crisis.

Housing has always been a priority for Arradondo. He invested resources in the sprawling homeless camp that originated off Hiawatha Avenue this summer before residents were moved to a transit home late last year.

According to a report from last year, which questioned the enforcement of abusive property rights laws in the department, which critics said would expel tenants in low-income and minority residences, Arradondo made some recommendations to the study, including the shift of responsibility for the landlord training in the area of ​​Regulatory Services of the city. The regulation was later amended. He also approved the creation of a new position to bridge the gap between the police and the homeless.

Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council organizer John Stumme says Arradondo attended several meetings and listened to local residents voice concerns about crime and provide solutions for improving police-community relations. The boss also appeared at the Council's annual cookout.

"He knows the public housing, he knows the inhabitants, and I think he has a real weakness for the public housing," said Stumme of Arradondo, whose three decades long career in the now defunct public housing unit.

According to district spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan, about one-third of the nearly 26,000 people in Minneapolis live on probation. About 8 percent of them are considered homeless. Eight years after Minneapolis closed its public-sector waiting list and the city's affordable vacancy rate was about 2 percent, former offenders have few options, according to Jeff Horwich, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority's director of policy and foreign affairs.

"We have public housing waiting lists that are 18,000 people in length and require 6,000 public housing units," he said, pointing to some signs of progress, including a 72-unit supporting settlement for the Nordschleife called the Great River Landing. The first residents move this summer.

Crime and homelessness

Studies have repeatedly shown a connection between unstable housing situations and crime.

According to research released last fall by the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based public think tank, formerly detained people are nearly ten times more homeless than the general public. Those who have been detained more than once are 13 times more likely.

Housing instability is another concern for Parolees, many of whom are bad at not being behind bars, says Sasha Cotton, Minneapolis & # 39; s youth violence prevention coordinator, who leads Project LIFE, an announced intervention program for members of the gangs who are being sought out of street life. Some move to shelters or live with friends or relatives when they leave, she said, pointing out that these arrangements are often temporary.

"Our number-one request for services for the guys we work with is living," she said recently. "First of all, in Minneapolis, I find affordable accommodation that is difficult for everyone."

Most accommodations have long waiting lists, she said. And even before the affordable housing shortage was felt, few landlords were willing to consider tenants with lengthy criminal history, and those who were often required up to three months in advance, says Cotton.

"So the guy who works at Buffalo Wild Wings or at Target, how can he expect $ 3,000 and make it legitimate?" she asked, forcing some to "beg, borrow, steal, or rob because I have no place to live."

Arradondo was more in office than his predecessors "on the issues of fairness and justice that bring people to crime," said Andrea Jenkins, member of the Eighth District Council, who sits in the Public Security Committee.

"I am not surprised that Chief Arradondo views this as more holistic and intersectional," she said. "I mean, it makes perfect sense: he's from the community, he understands a lot of the dynamics that create conditions in the very low-income communities, and I'm not surprised he's having this conversation and worrying about these issues. "

Some critics say that Arradondo should focus more on transforming the culture of the department. And while some activists praised Arradondo for responding to the needs of the less fortunate residents of the city, they rejected his call for more police funding, arguing that the money should instead be invested in public investment, including affordable housing, affordable housing , Education and Psychiatric Care.

But Arradondo says his goals and those of activists are the same.

"There is no way that you can experience homelessness and not affect your well-being, and that is traumatic in and of itself," he said, "and sometimes we separate the two."

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