July 2020 E-Newsletter

Jan Callison - News from District 6


  July 2020


I hope you are enjoying my electronic newsletters, and find them interesting and informative about county activities. In addition to my monthly newsletter, the county sends various newsletters and notifications available by email or text message. To explore the many opportunities to subscribe or to change your preferences, visit the subscription webpage.

Please feel free to send me your comments through my feedback form on issues that concern you or you would like covered. I value your opinions.

Warm regards,

Jan Callison

In this edition

Board meetings

June 2, 2020

Job search tools for those impacted by COVID-19

The board allocated $2.5 million of federal CARES Act funding to organizations serving people who were laid off, furloughed, or unemployed due to COVID-19.

The county will partner with Twin West Chamber of Commerce to create an app that will connect job seekers, students, parents and teachers with career exploration tools and open jobs, called “Elevate Futures.”

Organizations can also use funding to provide:

  • Assistance to apply for unemployment insurance
  • Support services for basic needs
  • Training
  • Services to prepare for a return to work
  • For employers – help securing the talent they need
  • For youth – career exploration, employment, training, and technology to ensure successful distance learning

Small business relief investment

The board authorized an additional $10 million of federal CARES Act funding to support small businesses.  

The county has already authorized more than $15 million of funding to support small and self-employed businesses, bringing the total to $25 million of assistance.

Prior to this authorization, the Hennepin County Small Business Relief Program received 2,290 applications representing 36 cities. A total of 1,056 applications were selected via randomized lottery for funding consideration. This additional funding is expected to support the remaining eligible businesses.

Culturally specific support for people experiencing homelessness   

The board approved $200,000 for added crisis outreach and housing navigation services for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Support will be focus on the Native American community, which is disproportionally affected by homelessness.

The county will work with the American Indian Community Development Corp and Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center to provide services.

The added resources will help connect more people with shelter/housing more rapidly, which will also help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

June 11, 2020

$3.5M CARES Act funding to support absentee voting


The board allocated $3.5 million of CARES Act funding for absentee voting, with a goal of increasing safety in the 2020 election for voters and elections workers.

Funds will be used to:

  • Educate and encourage eligible voters in Hennepin County to vote absentee by mail
  • Provide additional temporary staff and supplies to manage and count a significant increase in absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Implement public health measures in polling places
  • Recruit new polling place staff to mitigate a reduction in volunteers

$1.7M for multidisciplinary approach to combat COVID-19


Approach includes testing, contact tracing

The board designated $1.7 million of CARES Act funding for a multi-faceted approach to minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

Hennepin County will:

  • Hire 25 staff to provide mobile testing at long-term care facilities, neighborhoods and communities most disproportionately impacted, and other emergent locations
  • Hire 15 staff for contact tracing and investigation efforts
  • Contract with Hennepin Healthcare to provide COVID-19 testing services
  • Supply the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for these staff

Distance learning resources for youth

The board approved $1.5 million of CARES Act spending to support resources for distance learning for youth involved in county systems, such as child welfare and corrections.

While schools continue to work to secure devices for students, gaps in access to broadband connectivity remain. The ability to ensure uninterrupted educational stability for youth involved in county systems could include:

  • Purchase of devices
  • Investment in broadband for specific locations that have high concentrations of youth without connectivity
  • Purchase of hotspots and cell phones for internet connectivity

June 23, 2020

Supporting youth impacted by COVID-19

Educational services and support

The board allocated $2.5 million of CARES Act funding to recruit staff that will work with youth involved in county systems, such as child welfare and corrections, to:

  • Provide education planning, monitoring, and coaching support tailored to individual developmental needs
  • Coordinate with school district staff, child welfare, Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation, Be@School staff, and related professionals
  • Arrange for other needed services 
  • Build problem-solving and self-advocacy skills 
  • Recognize and develop available support networks and be a resource for parents/caregivers
  • Provide individualized online tutoring services

Summer programs and sports

The board allocated $2 million of CARES Act funding to support organizations that provide summer youth programs and organized youth sports. Funding will be used for facility adaptations, signage, equipment, technology, supplies, cleaning, and personal protective equipment to help comply with public health measures.

The board designated $1 million to support summer youth programs on June 11.

$3 million to reduce backlog at service centers


The board allocated $3 million of CARES Act funding to help reduce the backlog at county licensing service centers caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding will be used to:

  • Modify spaces consistent with safety plans at Brookdale, North Minneapolis Hub and Ridgedale, and potentially an additional satellite location
  • Hire additional limited duration staff and provide those staff with appropriate PPE and cleaning supplies
  • Provide additional technology including an online payment system, electronic locker system, and chat/instant messaging functionality for the county’s website

Library reopening plan


The board approved a COVID-19 library reopening plan for 32 of Hennepin County’s 41 libraries in 2020.

Libraries will continue the reintroduction of limited in-person services that meet the county’s standards for safe, sustainable service. Upcoming phases include expanded curbside pickup, expanded book returns, computer use by appointment, and grab-and-go services that accommodate short duration visits.

Curbside service expands to 16 libraries by mid-July

As part of a phased reopening, Hennepin County Library is providing safe access to physical library materials through curbside pickup and returns, offered at five additional locations in July.

Additional small business relief

The board allocated $900,000 of CARES Act funding to support multiple small business relief strategies.

Funding will provide:

  • Administrative support to process applications received for Hennepin County small business assistance as quickly as possible
  • Culturally specific outreach and navigation assistance to ensure more equitable access to funds
  • Assistance to business districts to support marketing, provide equipment and supplies, and help create public spaces that adhere to physical distancing guidelines
  • Support for the Business Advisory Council

With this round of funding, Hennepin County has now designated a total of $25.9 million of CARES Act funding for small businesses.

June 30, 2020

Board declares racism a public health crisis

The board voted to declare racism a public health crisis in Hennepin County.

Naming racism as a systemic cause to disparities is key to continue to move this work forward.

Read the full news release.

Naloxone distribution at county jail and high-risk communities

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office will receive grant funding to distribute Naloxone kits at the county jail and in communities with high rates of opioid overdose.

The jail’s medical team will distribute kits to people who request assistance upon release, people identified as high risk for potential overdose, and people with family members who may benefit from treatment.

The Sheriff’s Office will also provide education and Naloxone kits in high-risk areas (identified using overdose mapping data) in partnership with public health staff, behavioral health staff, and nonprofits.  

Citizen advisory board appointments

Race Equity Advisory Council 

The board appointed eight members to its new Race Equity Advisory Council.

The council will advise the county board and staff on issues of racial equity, recommended actions to reduce racial disparities, and a community engagement plan. People chosen for the council have connections in local historically marginalized communities and expertise in at least one of the seven disparity domains that the county is trying to change: education, employment, income, health, housing, transportation and justice.

The board appointed eight members for at-large positions:

  • Biiftuu I Adam
  • Mahogany Ellis-Crutchfield
  • Deran L Cadotte
  • Mukul Nautiyal
  • Paul T Beshah
  • Tekia S Jefferson
  • Isaak O Rooble
  • Farhia A Mohamed

Additional appointments are expected at future board meetings.

Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District Board

The board appointed Dorothy Pedersen and Richard Ward to the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District Board.

Watershed districts educate and engage residents, and the work they undertake benefits the quality and quantity of water in local, as well as downstream watersheds and communities.  

Board briefings

In addition to our regularly scheduled board meetings, the board often meets on Thursday mornings to receive board briefings. These are informal opportunities to discuss emerging issues. No votes are taken. Board briefings occur in the board room on the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and are open to the public.

Weekly briefings

Hennepin re-opening strategies

The county board holds a weekly briefing regarding Hennepin's re-opening strategies.  Briefing videos are not archived, they are only available to watch live.  If you are interested in seeing the schedule for past briefings or receiving the PowerPoint presentation from past briefings, please email my office.  The link to watch live briefings as well as other board meeting videos is below. 


There is a dedicated COVID-19 webpage on the Hennepin County website.  Information regarding services and board actions related to COVID-19 are updated on a continual basis.  At the bottom of the page there is a sign-up for email updates related to COVID-19.


County calendar

July 23, 2020

Talk of the Stacks


The previously scheduled Talk of the Stacks with Larry Watson will move ahead as a virtual event.

When: Thursday, July 23
            7:00 p.m.

Watson will be discussing his latest novel, The Lives of Edie Pritchard, releasing July 21.

August 2020

Pen Pals 2020/21 Season Announcement Coming Soon

Pen pals

Pen Pals, the Twin Cities’ longest-running author lecture series, will return for its landmark 24th season in fall 2020. Author line-up, subscription information, and more will be shared in a special online season announcement in early August.


Hennepin County shelter response

Hennepin County has been preparing to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable residents, including those experiencing homelessness. The county continues to work with several area hotels and service providers to provide alternate housing for high-risk and sick residents who cannot isolate on their own.

Hennepin County first acted to establish alternative accommodations for high-risk residents at area hotels on Tuesday, March 17. To date, the county has allocated more than $6 million for protective and isolation housing for vulnerable residents.

Protective housing

The number of people we are supporting in protective housing facilities remains at about 500. We are continuing our work with residents to transition from the hotel into permanent housing. The hotel program is a crisis response to COVID-19 and is not sustainable indefinitely but our goal is that none will return to shelter and our goal for everyone remains that they should have their own housing.

Emergency rental assistance for low-income households affected by COVID-19

Many in our community are struggling to make ends meet amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Housing is one of our most basic needs we must meet to live a safe and healthy life, especially during times of social distancing and “safer at home” orders. Even though there is a temporary hold on evictions, rent is still due and landlords may be able to evict tenants with past due rent once restrictions are lifted.

Hennepin County has up to $15 million available to help low-income renters who can’t afford their housing costs this month due to COVID-19.

You may qualify for emergency rental assistance if you:

  • Rent your housing anywhere in Hennepin County
  • Had household income below 50% of the area median income (about $46,550 for a three-person household) before COVID-19
  • Lost income due to COVID-19 that has not been replaced by unemployment insurance or other emergency assistance
  • Can’t afford your housing costs this month
  • Are not currently receiving Section 8 or other rental assistance

There is no deadline to apply. Priority will be given to households with the lowest incomes and those not eligible for Unemployment Insurance.

Learn more and apply at https://www.hennepin.us/rent-help.

Hennepin County resource helpline


8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

7 days a week

Help available in different languages

If you're affected by COVID-19, you can call this number for help with clothing, financial assistance, grocery and household supplies, medical care and equipment, or medication.

More information

For more information and to sign up for newsletter updates, visit the Continuum of Care partnership to end homelessness webpage.

Take the Census Challenge: Count Me In!


Call, text or email five people you know and ask them to complete the census

Census response rates

The census will determine the resources available to our community for the next 10 years. However, many people impacted by COVID-19 and recent civil unrest may not complete the census.

Hennepin County is working with cities and community partners to make sure we meet, if not exceed, our 2010 response rate of 82%. 

  • U.S. – More than 88 million households (almost 62%)
  • Minnesota – 71%, highest response rate in nation
  • Hennepin County – 75% 
  • Your community – could be at risk for being undercounted  
  • Maps with response rates by zip code -- hennepin.us/wecount 

Get outside and bike

Bike route

Plan your bike route with our interactive bike map – now updated to include bikeway projects completed in 2019.

2020 election


Election season has begun. There are a variety of ways to participate in elections from home this year. Here are a few things you can already do to participate in the 2020 elections.

Register to vote

Register to vote online with the Secretary of State.

Apply for absentee ballots online

Apply for an absentee ballot online with the Secretary of State.

Some important dates to mark on your calendar:

  • June 26 - Absentee voting opened for the primary election
  • August 11 - Primary election
  • November 3 - Presidential election

Board meeting and county updates

The Board of Commissioners meeting calendar has been updated.  View the updated 2020 board meeting calendar.

When you visit county buildings

Required face coverings

All visitors to Hennepin County buildings are required to wear face coverings that cover both mouth and nose and are secured to the head with ties or ear loops.

If you are sick

Do not enter the building if you are sick or experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Social distance

Maintain 6 feet/2 meters of social distance.

COVID-19 updates

Updates regarding county services and guidelines relating to COVID-19 are regularly updated on the county's webpage.  You can view these updates here.

About District 6

District 6 map

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners consists of one commissioner from each of seven districts. I am proud to represent Deephaven, north Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata and Woodland.

County information

Jan Callison
6th District

Allyson Sellwood
Policy Aide

Bill Fellman
Administrative assistant/scheduling


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