Finding, creating, and maintaining safe, affordable housing for all residents in Saint Paul is not getting easier, especially in a pandemic and recession. But in a conversation Jan. 27 with the Como Community Council’s Anti-Racism Work Group, Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali talked in detail about city and county efforts to provide more housing stability, especially for residents who currently are homeless or are on the brink of becoming so. You can watch the conversation through the “This is a Recording” article at www.district10comopark.org. The discussion covers:
• What’s necessary to change the hearts and minds of residents, including in communities such as Como, to accept and advocate for a larger range of housing options across the city
• The funding, policy, and political hurdles to reducing homelessness, creating more housing for a wider range of people, and preserving affordable housing
• Innovative, affordable housing options under consideration (and the challenges to making them happen)
• The complexities that affect decisions by unhoused residents, the professionals trying to find appropriate indoor homes for them, and what more the city and residents could do increase safety and support at encampments
4 join Neighborhood Honor Roll
Congratulations to Rita Amendola, James Cowles, Molly Fitzel, and Olivia Morawiecki, who are the newest members of the District 10 Neighborhood Honor Roll. The new honorees were selected Jan. 19 by the Como Community Council board, based on nominations from District 10 residents.
• Amendola was nominated my multiple neighbors “for her many efforts over many years to build a strong, safe, and welcoming neighborhood and Como Park community.”
• Cowles also was nominated by multiple neighbors. They cited his “tremendous neighborly generosity” – including middle-of-the-night snow removal on his block – and his bicycle advocacy.
• Fitzel and Morawiecki, of the North End South Como Block Nurse Program, were nominated for their creative efforts to make sure seniors are not alone during the pandemic.
Normally, there is a citywide celebration for honorees from across Saint Paul. Because of pandemic restrictions, that won’t happen for a while. Locally, however, the Como Community Council will add the latest honorees to a permanent plaque that will be displayed in the Como Park Streetcar Station.
Students return to Job Corps
The U.S. Department of Labor has cleared the Humphrey Job Corps Center to begin siphoning students back for classroom training for the first time since last March. More than 30 students are on campus now, and groups of no more than 10 will return every two weeks. All students must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and all staff are tested for COVID-19 before interacting with returning students.
Meanwhile, construction is wrapping up – with elevators and work in the gym the last major projects. Crews expect to remove the temporary office trailer from the Arlington parking lot in February.
New Western District leaders
The Saint Paul Police Department’s Western District has new command staff. Joshua Lego replaces Steve Anderson as senior commander, and Salim Omari replaces Kent Cleveland as patrol commander.
Anderson and Cleveland are being transferred after four years in their Western District roles. Lego and Anderson essentially are switching jobs; Anderson takes over the citywide property crimes unit. Cleveland takes over the citywide records unit.
Lego has nearly 25 years’ service in the department, including assignments as a station commander, commander of property crimes, and in the special operations and family and sexual violence units.
Omari has roughly 14 years’ service, including as senior commander of the internal affairs unit; he has spent nearly half his time on the force in the Western District.
Free Food Fridays continue
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation are partnering to again distribute free meal boxes on the remaining Fridays in February. The meal boxes are available to Ramsey Country residents dealing with financial hardships because of COVID-19.
The meal boxes will be distributed in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front, on Feb. 19 and 26.
Distribution will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. (or until supplies run out). Reservations are highly recommended; to reserve your box, fill out the form at www.district10comopark.org/mealbox.html. The boxes provide two meals of six servings each.
Call or link into D10 Meetings
Pandemic or not, renters, homeowners, and other community members are always welcome to participate in District 10’s board and committee meetings. You can join either by video conference or by phone.
To obtain links, phone numbers, or other access information, send a request by email to email@example.com. Or, call 651-644-3889. Upcoming meetings:
• Board meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 16
• Neighborhood Relations: Tuesday, March 2
• Land Use: Wednesday, March 3
• Environment: Wednesday, March 10
All meetings begin at 7 p.m. Whenever possible, agendas and other relevant documents are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.org