Dominium, the apartment-complex developer, is the latest corporate partner to sign up with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

Dominium is providing $50,000 and 100 volunteers this month to support the building of a Habitat home in the Jordan neighborhood of the Northside for a working-poor family that will go through homeownership training, work alongside volunteers and qualify for a subsidized mortgage.
“Corporate support, financing and volunteer groups are the backbone of our system,” said Habitat CEO Chris Coleman.

In the fiscal year that ended in June, Habitat helped 93 families achieve homeownership through its new-construction, rehab and low-cost financing programs, including home buyer education.

That number could grow to 125 by 2020, double what Habitat has done historically.

Habitat was bolstered this year by a 10-year, $25 million credit agreement with Minnesota Housing that will help boost housing production. It also has a promising financial relationship with Bremer Banks.

Habitat targets working-class households who make up to 80 percent of the median Twin Cities household income of around $70,000

“Our entry point [for qualifying low-income families] is around $36,000, Coleman said.

Dominium and Habitat are working together to build the four-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home in the Jordan neighborhood, an area which was hit hard by the 2007-11 foreclosure crisis and the 2011 tornado that ripped through North Minneapolis. Twin Cities Habitat has partnered with residents, other nonprofit housing developers and community groups to revitalize the neighborhood for working-class families.

Dominium’s sponsorship contributes to Twin Cities Habitat’s Impact 2020 strategic plan to more than double Habitat homeownership opportunities over the coming years.

“At Dominium we have seen the impact of the affordable housing crisis in community after community, around the country,” said Paul Sween, Managing Partner for Dominium. “We are proud to join the more than 15,000 volunteers who support Habitat’s work every year.”

There has been much written about the “affordable housing” crisis.

It’s more an “income” crisis. The Twin Cities housing boom since 2011 has been targeted, for the most part, at families with six-to-seven figure household incomes.

The wages of the working class over the last 40 years have fallen way behind inflation in housing, health care and higher education; society’s big ticket items. Developers of low-income houses and apartment buildings, such as PPL, Aeon and Beacon Interfaith Housing, have fallen behind demand and usually need subsidy from philathopy, government and lenders to complete affordable financing packages.

"Years of steady cost increases and stagnant wage growth have broken home economics across the state," Coleman wrote stakeholders recently. "Today’s families must spend significantly greater percentages of their income just on housing (25% of Minnesotans, and 45% of our renters, are cost-burdened and spending more than 30% of their money on housing). This squeezes budgets and forces painful choices that will have long-term consequences—both for individuals and our entire state."

A taskforce convened by Gov. Mark Dayton recently made recommendations on increasing the supply of lower-cost housing.

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