Affordable housing in Cedar-Riverside set for expansive renovation

The West Bank Community Development Corporation will renovate nearly 200 units of affordable housing next year.

Jackie Smith, 26, burns leaves outside of her apartment just north of the West Bank campus on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Her building is part of a cluster of townhouses that will be undergoing rehabilitation in 2018.

Carter Blochwitz

Jackie Smith, 26, burns leaves outside of her apartment just north of the West Bank campus on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Her building is part of a cluster of townhouses that will be undergoing rehabilitation in 2018.

Carter Blochwitz

Nearly 200 units of affordable rental housing in Cedar-Riverside will be renovated next year.  

A refinancing plan for the expansive repair project was presented by the nonprofit West Bank Community Development Corporation during its annual meeting on Nov. 13. The plan detailed an estimated $10.5 million construction budget that will go toward refurbishing 74 Riverside Homes buildings, which are scattered throughout Cedar-Riverside.

David Hoffman-Dachelet, West Bank CDC assets manager, said the older buildings have many issues that need to be addressed. Many of the buildings were built in the 1980s, but some date back as far as the 1880s.

“Mostly, what we’re looking at are building envelopes, roofs, siding and windows,” Hoffman-Dachelet said. “They just need redoing — windows fail, stuff moves, siding leaks.”

Riverside Homes is funded by Section 42 tax credits, which require residents to meet a certain income level to qualify for the housing. The Section 42 status also qualifies the housing to receive investment from the City of Minneapolis Housing Revenue Bond Program.

“The financing is far from being completed, but at this point, we are going to request some support from the City … to [provide] subsidy to the project,” said Tim Mungavan, executive director of West Bank CDC.

Mungavan said the National Equity Fund, an organization that supports affordable housing throughout the country, will also help fund the renovations. 

Most of the proposed work will occur while residents stay in their units, but some may need to temporarily relocate during renovations, due to safety and air quality concerns.

“Our hope is to limit [the relocations]… [but] any buildings built before 1978 have the potential for lead paint. It could be one to five days for those folks,” Hoffman-Dachelet said. 

The CDC’s decision to temporarily relocate certain residents will depend on the type of construction and needs of the family, Hoffman-Dachelet said.

The proposed repair work has been praised by community leaders and former residents of the neighborhood.

Ken Preslan, a member of the CDC’s board of directors who lived in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood for 12 years, said the rehabilitation project will help ensure resident access to affordable housing. 

“We’re doing this so that we can keep housing affordable in Cedar-Riverside for the next 50 years or more,” Preslan said. 

Minneapolis Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon said the restoration will benefit the neighborhood. 

Gordon, whose ward covers roughly half of the Riverside Homes, said the city has provided the CDC with a specific land trust to preserve affordable housing.

“This is a good thing that they’re going to improve the [Riverside Homes], and that we’ll have more long-term affordable housing in the area,” he said.

Despite steps the West Bank CDC has taken toward financing homes in the area, Mungavan said future efforts may be more difficult if Congress passes a tax bill sponsored by House Republicans. 

The bill would eliminate tax-exempt financing, which helps fund affordable housing projects, he said.  

“That’s a tool that is used for a lot of affordable housing, so everybody is trying to get the city to approve their bond allocation before the end of the year,” Mungavan said. “It could be very bad news long-term.”