Duluth – With the state expected to pass a hefty bonding bill in the coming legislative session, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan came to town to see what’s worked in the past.
As affordable housing grows more scarce in Duluth and other cities across the state, Flanagan and representatives from Minnesota Housing visited the city Thursday to check out public and private developments that have received money from the state in recent years.
And at both stops on her quick trip north, the residents she met expressed similar feelings: gratitude and an urgency for more funding to assist others in need of affordable housing.
At Lutheran Social Service’s Center for Changing Lives on E. Superior Street, where 20 units are for homeless youths, the lieutenant governor met Joshua Kortes and Mercedes Moore, who live at the center.
The Center for Changing Lives received $4.1 million from Minnesota Housing through state housing infrastructure bonds in 2015.
With his 4-month-old daughter bouncing in his lap, Kortes choked up describing his experience being homeless as a young teen. When he connected with the center, he said he was finally given a chance to “get my life together a little, bit by bit.”
“Now I’ve got a family, and we’ve got a home,” he said. “And we’ve got people who have got our backs.”
Similarly, at Ramsey Manor — a publicly owned building that received $1.4 million in bonding money to make crucial repairs and improvements — residents took turns telling their tales of misfortune, addiction and loss that ended happily because they were able to find a safe, affordable place to live.
Flanagan said the issue of housing is near and dear to her heart. Growing up in St. Louis Park, her mother used a Section 8 voucher to help pay rent.
“We’re really grateful to be able to highlight a place and space that’s working for community members and families — and to lift up the fact that we absolutely need more dollars that are going towards housing, for the full spectrum of needs out there,” Flanagan said.
Four housing developments in Duluth have requested funding or low-income housing tax credits from the state this year, according to Minnesota Housing. Awards and recommendations will be announced after a Nov. 21 board meeting. The agency will accept new requests for future projects in 2020 based on the bonding bill passed by the Legislature and governor.