Affordable housing advocates turned out in force for Tuesday evening's public hearing on the city budget, urging council members to more than double the mayor's proposed allotment to Minneapolis' affordable housing trust fund.
Eighteen of the 33 people who spoke to the council about the mayor's proposed $1.2 billion budget were supportive of the city putting $20 million into its affordable housing fund. That's a considerable jump from the $9.1 million in city and outside funding Mayor Betsy Hodges proposed, and more than the $10 million annual goal the city has held --but frequently missed -- for years.
Supporters included members of nonprofit housing groups, church leaders and homeowners who said their lives had been changed by help from groups like Habitat for Humanity and City of Lakes Community Land Trust.
"Budgeting nothing is no help at all," said Lee Mauk, board chairman of the Beacon Interfaith Housing Collective. "Budgeting just a little helps just a little. If we really intend to address the shortage of affordable housing, we need a healthy and solid affordable housing trust fund."
Jeff Washburne, executive director of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, said he worries other groups that provide financial support will be less willing to give if it appears that the city isn't pitching in.He said more help is needed as development picks up around the area.
"This city is beginning to prosper again, real estate values are increasing, and more and more of our residents are being left behind," he said.
Other popular topics at Tuesday's hearing included funding for security services in public housing towers and support for protected bike lanes. Eight speakers pressed the council to support funding for bike improvements. Several said they feel unsafe biking in areas of the city, particularly with their children.
The council is still sorting through the budget, and taking comments from the public by email and the city's website. A second public hearing will be held at 6:05 p.m. on Dec.10, just before the council votes on the budget.