Best of Neighborhood News 4/11: Hennepin County launches program to reduce evictions

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In Hennepin County, Community Mediation and Restorative Services is working to reduce eviction filings in Minneapolis, especially in North Minneapolis where eviction rates are highest. Currently, women of color are the most frequently evicted.

The new program will use mediators, legal help and cash assistance.

“While this is a complex challenge with no one solution, I am fully convinced that dramatically reducing evictions in Minneapolis is possible,” said Zoe Thiel, a city Innovations Team program manager.

Find more information and details about where to receive assistance at Southwest Journal.

Bill working against sex trafficking moves to House floor

Partially in response to the city’s hosting of the Super Bowl, a bill intended to combat sex trafficking made is going to the House floor. The new legislation would require hotel staff members to complete training on the signs of sex trafficking within the first 90 days of hiring.

“It’s really important to remember that [sex trafficking] occurs all around us, all the time,” said Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey).

Read more at the Session Daily.

Minnesota schools look to reexamine debt policy for students on free-and-reduced-lunch

In Minnesota schools, some children with a deficit in their lunch account are faced with “lunch shaming”—lunch workers throw out a student’s lunch to set an example and encourage parents to pay off the lunch account balance.

Lawmakers are investigating policy solutions: a new bill that would protect students with free-and-reduced-lunch. Under the bill, these students would not be denied lunch for any reason and their lunch cannot be taken back after being served.

“They say these [lunch shaming]  practices are effective. But what it says to us — what we are hearing from the kids, families we represent, and from teachers — is that kids just don’t eat then. They withdraw. They sit back. They fear being shamed, so they don’t take a meal,” said Jessica Webster, a staff attorney with Legal Services Advocacy Project. “Guess what — that actually stops a debt from being accumulated. But is that what we want?”

Read more about this practice and possible solutions at MinnPost.

UMN students ask for improvements in disability services

Student representatives at the University of Minnesota are asking for data collection to better accommodations for disabled students. Current disability services have left some students feeling unsupported by faculty, and many feel that the university’s services are overloaded.

“This is the beginning of a conversation that needs to be continually had,” said Apoorva Malarvannan, student representative to the Board of Regents.

Find out the full story at MN Daily.

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