The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority's largest new construction project in two decades is nearing completion with families set to move into new affordable housing as soon as late September.

The $47 million Family Housing Expansion Project comprises 84 two- and three-bedroom units in 16 small apartment buildings spread across the city. Completing the entire project is expected to take just over one year, because much of the construction took place off site. The project used modular building, in which 126 "modules" were constructed and then pieced together in a process MPHA officials said made the entire effort faster and less disruptive than traditional construction.

Eighty-four of the new homes, located in neighborhoods in south, north and northeast Minneapolis, will be available for families at or below 30% of the area median income. The MPHA estimates that all residents will be able to move in by December.

"We are excited to reach this important milestone in this first-of-its-kind project," Abdi Warsame, MPHA executive director, wrote in a news release announcing the project's final phase. "We are thrilled with how the project has progressed and are focused on welcoming our first families home in September."

Each of the 16 buildings will house four to six families. Modules are 15 1/2 feet by 72 feet, and have space for two- to three-bedroom homes.

The buildings are located across neighborhoods in the south, north and northeast of the city.

The housing project used modules manufactured by RISE Modular. Building with this method allows for construction to happen onsite and offsite. Modules are constructed away from the neighborhoods, meaning less noise and disruption, then assembled at the location.

"Urban infill developments in well-established residential neighborhoods always offer special challenges. ... Our crews erected entire buildings on each site within a couple of days, making it a much more pleasant experience for the neighbors and a faster delivery for MPHA and its families," Christian Lawrence, RISE Modular CEO said in the release.

The MPHA projects the development will house as many as 420 low-income families over the next 30 years.

The project's buildings include multiple units but are smaller than most apartment buildings. Building out instead of up means more roof surface area for solar panels, which the MPHA estimates will cover roughly 30% of electrical consumption in the homes.

Each building has a 22.6 kW system, and renewable energy used by all units is equivalent to around 335,000 pounds of coal in a year, according to the MPHA.

Sixteen of the housing units are accessible for people with disabilities, and 17 homes are for high-priority homeless households with services funded through Hennepin County's Coordinated Entry program. Most locations are close to transit, employment opportunities and schools, the agency said.

MPHA officials said locating smaller apartment buildings around the city, rather than concentrating the construction in one location, provides low-income residents with the opportunity to access affordable housing in different neighborhoods.

"This type of housing in established residential neighborhoods provides a solid foundation for upward mobility," said Brian Schaffer, assistant director of planning and development for MPHA.

Funding for the project came from loans and grants through the U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Citi Community Capital, other organizations and Minneapolis.

Hannah Ward is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune. Reach her at