Following the tragic death of George Floyd in May, riots and looting caused an estimated $500 million in property and other damage in the Twin Cities.
Property owners and insurance experts estimate those costs will make it the second-costliest civil disturbance in U.S. history, trailing only those in Los Angeles in 1992, which were also sparked by racial tensions with police and caused over $1 billion in damages in today's dollars.
To assist in the recovery, Minneapolis and St. Paul are fortunate to have business, individual and nonprofit contributors who have stepped up to donate millions. Their generosity and faith in the cities will help struggling businesses and other property owners rebuild.
Most recently, UnitedHealth Group announced additional recipients as part of the $5 million the company pledged in June to support rebuilding efforts. The Minnetonka-based health organization, through the nonprofit Heart of America, is giving $1 million each to the Lake Street Council, Minnesota Community Care and the West Broadway Business & Area Coalition/Northside Funders. Neighbors United Funding Collaborative in St. Paul will receive $500,000.
UnitedHealth has also committed to funding college education for Floyd's children and is giving another $5 million to YMCA Equity Innovation Center of Excellence to help advance efforts of equality and inclusion across the state. The health care giant's employees are also volunteering and providing pro-bono consulting support to the grant recipients.
Recipients intend to use the funds to offer mobile clinics that provide health, pharmacy and social services. The donations will help reopen, rebuild and in some cases relocate grocery stores, pharmacies and child and elder care centers in some of the Twin Cities' most economically challenged communities — from Hamline Midway and University Avenue in St. Paul to the West Broadway and Lake Street corridors in Minneapolis.
UnitedHealth is not alone. Several other metro-area companies should also be commended for their commitment to rebuilding. Businesses including Medtronic, Target and U.S. Bank have made significant contributions following Floyd's death.
In addition, the Lake Street Council reports that over 70,000 people have contributed to a $5.5 million fund to support the area's recovery. Grants have gone to more than 300 businesses to help them get back on their feet.
Elias Usso, whose Seward Pharmacy on Lake Street was looted and damaged in May, received a $165,000 grant from UnitedHealth through Heart of America.
"Lake Street is our home," Usso said at an event last week. "The city of Minneapolis is our home. Minnesota is our home. We want to come back strong. Lake Street will come back strong. With your help, it's going to be a wonderful comeback. I'm so grateful."
Continued support and funding will help Usso's hope for an even stronger city become reality.