In 2018, Saint Paul received 69,000 complaints of code violations for homes in the city. This led to more than $700,000 in fines for homeowners. Additionally, city officials have found that excessive water usage caused by things like running toilets and leaks can lead to high costs. The costs from water usage fines can put a significant financial strain on low-income households and contribute to housing instability.
The city recruits citizens to serve on two teams of volunteers that address these issues, with a focus on citizens aged 50+. One team resolves minor exterior home repairs to prevent fines and the other helps residents reduce excess water usage. These citizen volunteers receive training and, together with city staff, help residents resolve these problems with expert advice, volunteer labor, in-kind donations, and grants.