EXCERPT: “It is no secret that the city of Minneapolis has some of the worst racial disparities in the country. From lack of affordable housing to wage gaps, Minneapolis has historically failed to maintain an equitable playing field for its residents of color. The City is now looking to close those gaps with its forthcoming Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive plan. Currently, in draft form, the 2040 Plan will serve as a guide for the City’s economic development, land use and natural resource decisions for the next 10 years. According to the plan’s website, its goal is to achieve greater equity in Minneapolis by having the City invest in ‘education, skills training, small business support and other support systems to help residents access opportunities to gain and retain well-paying employment.’ It will also look to provide more affordable housing in areas that lack options due to past racially discriminatory practices like housing covenants and redlining.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2LNC3sC
EXCERPT: “WNC, a national investor in real estate and community development initiatives, announced today the opening of Bright Sky Apartments, a new 43-unit affordable housing community in Moorhead, Minnesota. WNC provided approximately $2.5 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity to help fund the project.” FULLSTORY: https://prn.to/2N7XipP
EXCERPT: “Amid tight markets with little new supply, housing affordability continues to be a spreading problem. This remains the case even though the median price of homes sold in the third quarter of 2017 compared against the second quarter was actually lower in 29 of the 50 markets we reviewed.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2jdR62l
EXCERPT: “The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recently gave notice of a $2 million dollar competitive grant that, if awarded, could fund housing developments in Lonsdale. ‘[The city] is just starting the process to see if there’s an interest,’ said City Administrator Joel Erickson. He said DEED recognized a need for more housing, and an EDA meeting recently addressed a lack of affordable housing options for Lonsdale workers. Erickson plans to contact area businesses in the near future to find out how many employees from various companies live outside Lonsdale.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2z4Eb8R
A Star Tribune guest editorial from Minnesota Multi-Housing Association chair Cecil Smith
EXCERPT: “Over the last two years, as the affordable housing crisis has worsened across Minnesota, and in particular in the Twin Cities metro area, a patchwork response by governments has been to consider or implement broader housing regulations. This is often a political response to vocal activists who persuade unimaginative policymakers with truly heart-wrenching stories. But the ‘more-regulation’ housing strategy from the city of Minneapolis (and other cities) will not serve those who need affordable housing well over the long-term. Developing and preserving housing requires resources and imagination. The leadership on housing to date has produced a mandate in Minneapolis for rental property managers to participate in the Section 8 voucher program. This same policy is now under consideration in other regional cities. Other proposals are being circulated: ‘Just Cause Eviction,’ ‘Advanced Notice of Sale to City,’ ‘Tenants’ First Right of Refusal on Sale’ and so on. None of these policies actually helps create affordable housing. Just ask residents of New York, Seattle or Portland whether policies like these are working. Those cities struggle with chronic homelessness and unaffordable rents . . . One strategy to mitigate the economic impact of ever-higher property taxes and municipal utilities on lower-cost housing would be to add a ‘This Old Apartment’ valuation to incentivize investment in capital improvements while maintaining affordability in older apartments. Finally, leaders would prioritize government budgets to fund subsidized affordable housing across the region.” FULLSTORY: http://strib.mn/2eAW86g
EXCERPT: “National vacancy rates in the second quarter 2017 were 7.3 percent for rental housing and 1.5 percent for homeowner housing. The rental vacancy rate of 7.3 percent was 0.6 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2016 (6.7 percent) and 0.3 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2017 (7.0 percent). The homeowner vacancy rate of 1.5 percent was 0.2 percentage points lower than the rates in the second quarter 2016 and the first quarter 2017 (1.7 percent each). The homeownership rate of 63.7 percent was 0.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2016 (62.9 percent) and not statistically different from the rate in the first quarter 2017 (63.6 percent).” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2vQn3T4 DATA: http://bit.ly/2w6zZU3
EXCERPT: “Walk through the downtown of any major U.S. city today and it may seem counterintuitive, in the midst of today’s building boom, that we have a housing shortage. In fact, we’re in the middle of an affordability crisis. According to the Urban Institute, for every 100 extremely low-income households in need of an affordable apartment, only 29 units are available, and researchers at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that 38.9 million households are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. ‘The simple fact is, in booming economies, it’s faster to hire a software developer than build a new apartment building,’ says Kristin Siglin, senior vice president of policy at the Housing Partnership Network. The U.S. isn’t just short a few units, we’re falling woefully behind. A report by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) suggest we need 4.6 million new units by 2030, and mayors across the country have made affordability a cornerstone of their campaigns. Experts and officials will, correctly, explain that the issue often comes down to cost: Affordable housing development often doesn’t add up, and without enough government subsidies and policy support, this important need goes unmet. ‘We do know what solutions and policies work,’ says Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless. ‘We just need the political will to make it happen.’ But when city leadership, government leaders, and nonprofits get creative and get serious about solving the issues, solutions can take shape. Curbed spoke with experts from numerous housing organizations—Urban Institute, Housing Partnership Network, National Housing Conference, Coalition for the Homeless, and Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies—as well as authors and scholars such as Joel Kotkin, to identify some of the innovative solutions that cities, states, and nonprofits have turned to to help solve the affordability shortage, including inclusionary zoning, removing parking minimums, changing building codes to make it easier to rehab older buildings, and new funding models. Some are small-scale, and none offers an all-in-one solution to this enormous problem (‘There is no silver bullet,’ says Siglin). But in a time of tight budgets and expanding need, they showcase creative ways to solve one of today’s trickiest urban issues.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2uD5gyy
Despite thoughtful and vocal opposition, the Minneapolis City Council failed to listen to residents, property owners and managers, who argued a new ordiance would add more regulation to Minneapolis rental housing likely adding to higher rents in a stable rental market.
The Minnesota Multi-Housing Association believes the ordinance, which mandates more inspections for apartments and longer wait times, could actually lead to fewer rental units that qualify for Section 8 subsidies and increased rents across the board because property managers believe the Minneapolis Public Housing current beauracracy makes the proposal unworkable.
Without warning, election year politics led to councilmembers Elizabeth Glidden, Abdi Warsame and Lisa Goodman expediting an ordinance first introduced two years earlier that would require all landlords in Minneapolis to accept government vouchers like those provided by the federal Section 8 program.
MHA launched a campaign opposing the ordinance as Minnesotans for Sensible Housing Policy which included online and social media ads, newspaper ads, and a website calling on the likely increase in rents once the ordinance is imposed.
Incoming Multi Housing Association President Cecil Smith told MinnPost forcing participation in voucher programs would increase rents throughout Minneapolis.
“First, because of the rules involved in complying with the voucher program — landlords have to leave apartments unrented while waiting for inspections required before tenants using vouchers can move in — adds costs that landlords will want to recover in rents.
The second reason is because of the rent standards used by housing agencies to decide how much they will pay in vouchers. Landlords with rents near the rent ceiling might simply raise rents so as to exceed the standard and simply avoid the regulations. “The program is so broken that there’s an incentive for owners to price their apartments above the fair-market standard,” he said.
Those factors could lead to what the association dubbed “coastal rents,” akin to those in cities like San Francisco and New York.”
The Multi-Housing Association took out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune ahead of a planned public meeting. It said, in part:
“We know from the most highly regulated apartment markets in the country – New York and San Francisco – that more mandates mean higher rents and longer wait times to find an apartment.
In Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority needs reform. A recent report outlined significant and numerous changes that MPHA needs to undertake – however the City Council wants to add additional burdens and bureaucracy to an agency that is already challenged and overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Met Council and other local affordable housing agencies administer the same federal vouchers as the City of Minneapolis with less bureaucracy and without the mandates Minneapolis is proposing.
One recent study indicates that 84 percent of Minneapolis apartments are within $50 per month of being priced outside of participating in the program. More bureaucracy and mandates = coastal rents.”
At a public hearing March 22nd reported on by Minnesota Public Radio, Councilmember Glidden said, “If I go on Craigslist right now, I can promise you I will find multiple listings that say ‘No Section 8.’ That’s what we hope will change.” An assertion supported by testimony from tenants like Tracey Clark, a full-time college student and part-time mental health specialist who said, “I’ve been hung up on when I ask if people will take Section 8.”
MPR reported the council also heard from property owners.
The Hornig Companies owns and manages around 2,000 apartments in Minneapolis, and has some Section 8 tenants. Bernadette Hornig fears Glidden’s proposal will mean higher business expenses.
“I just don’t think this is the solution to the problem that they’re trying to address,” Hornig said. “I think it shows a pattern of mandates by the city of Minneapolis that make it really hard as a small business owner to conduct our business on a daily basis.”
Property manager Jennifer Spadine agrees. Her company, Guardian Properties, manages about 100 Minneapolis rentals and also accepts Section 8. But Spadine says taking on additional voucher holders will mean more bureaucracy.
“There’s inspections, there’s delays in the inspections, and delays in the service between us and the program, which causes loss of rent, and causes vacancy.”
Two days later, in a unanimous vote, the city council passed the ordinance. It will take effect in May of 2018. Multi-Housing Association President Cecil Smith told KSTP-TV, “the priority should have been reform of the housing choice voucher program.” The ordinance, he said, “could lower the opportunity for affordable housing in the city (and) exhilarate the gentrification of Minneapolis.”
The Hibbing Daily Tribune covers aging housing stock noting that 18 percent of St. Louis County residents living in poverty, affordable housing in northern Minnesota comes at the price of an aging infrastructure.
One growing issue is the aging population in St. Louis County that will inhabit 49 percent of its population at 65 years-old or older by 2030 — nearly twice that of the entire state. Aging populations tend to live in older mid-century homes that neglect improvements as incomes diminish with age. What results is that critical improvements are not made as houses age with the homeowner. Additionally, as older populations move on to assisted living situations, there are no available services to prepare older homes to be market-ready.
In all, aging homes and aging populations are leaving northern Minnesota counties like St. Louis County in an infrastructure crisis.
Read more at the Hibbing Daily Tribune here.
- Redfin: Minneapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia are the Most Affordable Sustainable Cities
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- Forbes: A Platform That Helps Low-Income Americans Find Affordable Housing
- HotPads: Walls Are Closing in on Today’s Renters
- CBS News: Series of innovations has virtually ended homelessness among veterans in Minnesota
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