Drawing on $18 million from its beefed-up fund for affordable housing, Minneapolis City Council members tentatively approved projects that will create or preserve 1,022 units across the city.
The council’s housing committee voted unanimously to approve 12 projects for housing trust-fund dollars. The housing options include senior housing, culturally specific housing for Minneapolis’ Native community, mixed-use housing and low-income housing including units for Section 8 aid recipients.
The approved funding marks “a landmark day” for the city in its continued efforts to bolster affordable housing, Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“We were intentional about making sure we were striking while the market was hot, making sure that we’re producing as many affordable housing units as possible,” Frey said. “We were intentional about making sure that we had affordable housing throughout our city, and we were preserving naturally occurring affordable housing in every neighborhood, and what you’re seeing today is a convergence of those two ideas.”
Under the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the city finances the rehabilitation of low-income rental housing projects with 10 or more units in the area. Applicants for the program must have at least 20% of the project’s units be affordable for households at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI). The program gives preference to projects with units affordable to even lower-income households and housing for large families.
City officials say the newly approved projects will take nearly two years to complete.
The announcement comes as Frey works to lock in support for his 2020 budget, which includes $31 million for the city’s affordable housing programs. The council is slated to take a final vote on the budget next month. Last year, City Council members approved a record $40 million to support the city’s affordable housing efforts. That request included approving Frey’s request to double the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund to $20 million.
Council Member Cam Gordon, chairman of the Housing and Policy Development Committee, said that the city is “making strides” to preserve affordable housing but that the council is hearing often from residents about Native Americans being unable to afford homes in their hometown and neighbors leaving because of rising housing costs.
“This is a great day, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us, and there are still people who are out there without a place to shelter to go to tonight in this cold weather,” Gordon said.
The funding needs approval by the Ways and Means Committee on Nov. 19 before going to the full council.