St. Paul, Ramsey County using bailout money for housing plans


ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) – The city of St. Paul and Ramsey County are investing tens of millions of federal bailout dollars in affordable housing for a group affected by Minnesota’s continuing housing shortage.

Local governments want to spend $ 74.5 million to provide more housing options for people earning 30% of the region’s median income, or about $ 31,500 per year for a family of four.

“The demand is there, and elected officials are putting pressure on it. And the developers say, “We’re happy to do it, but it only costs money,” said St. Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen. “And we need it, you know, if we’re going to make it happen, we need additional funding.”

The city and county will each set aside around $ 37 million for projects both within the city limits and elsewhere in the county. The money comes from US federal bailout law, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“All of the resources currently available for affordable housing are still oversubscribed, which means the demand for funding exceeds what is available,” said Cécile Bedor, an executive at CommonBond Communities, a nonprofit affordable housing developer. ” It is important. So any new investment of extra dollars in affordable housing is really welcome and really essential. “

The funding is expected to help build approximately 1,000 units in the county, primarily in St. Paul. According to the Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County needs approximately 15,000 affordable housing units to meet current needs.

“We have to work on something where people who earn less now can earn more later so they can afford more expensive housing, or we have to find a way to bring down the cost of housing,” said Jennifer Ho. , Housing Commissioner of Minnesota.

Ramsey County and St. Paul’s planned spending will help keep costs down, Ho said. Developers would pay less for their mortgages and rents could be cheaper or at least not go up as much. But developers still see headwinds towards more housing at lower cost.

“I think (even with) the challenges of new construction in the price, in the materials, in the supply chain, obviously, COVID, I think there is a way, there is a way, to cross the line arrival, ”said Johnny Opara, president and CEO of JO Companies, which has plans for apartment complexes in St. Paul and Brooklyn Park, Minn. “You know, just having access to these funds holds promise for developers, who are passionate about building these projects. “

But another obstacle is community buy-in. Often people are supportive of affordable housing in general, but not when it comes to their neighborhood.

Brendmoen of St. Paul’s Council says that means a lot of the same neighborhoods get affordable housing developments because it’s just easier to get approval.

“It’s like, where’s the right place?” Is it only in the north? And on the east side? I don’t think so, ”said Brendmoen. “You know, it’s like things have to change, and if we’re going to change the equity gap, the homeownership gap, we’re going to have to do something different with housing as well. “

Brendmoen said several developments already underway like Highland, Hillcrest and near Allianz Field could be good candidates for these funds.


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