A much-debated affordable housing project for homeless youth in the western suburbs won’t get underway any time soon.
The 66 West project, approved by the Edina City Council last month, wasn’t included in a record $162 million pot of state funding for affordable housing announced this week.
The $9 million development would create 39 studio apartments in an existing TCF Bank building off W. 66th Street in the Southdale area. It’s sponsored by St. Paul-based Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, a group of 50 congregations working to end homelessness in the Twin Cities.
But the result is no surprise, said Anne Mavity, Beacon’s director of new projects. Other projects were further along in development, and Beacon didn’t really expect state funding this year for 66 West. The group’s focus this year was Prior Crossing, an affordable-housing development in St. Paul, which received $5 million in state money.
“We play the long game on these projects,” Mavity said Friday. “It often takes several years [to secure funding]. We think we’re very well positioned for next year.”
Specific land use approvals and zoning changes for 66 West need to be worked out over the next year, she said: “We are on the way, but there’s still work to do.”
Mavity said projects like 66 West are crucial as new development crowds out affordable housing in many areas of the metro region.
“The people who are working at restaurants, grooming dogs or working as cashiers may be fully employed and still not able to access affordable housing in their communities,” she said. “As the governor pointed out at the funding announcement, despite the record amount of money available [for affordable housing], we still had three times as many applications as they were able to fund.”