Metro area needs affordable homes

by Daily Editorial Board

Last week, developers attending an event sponsored by the Minnesota Multi Housing Association discussed Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to allocate an unprecedented $90 million in bonding authority for affordable housing. 
If legislators approve the proposal, $20 million would help the state’s local housing agencies modernize publicly owned units. The remaining $70 million would help repair low-income housing and construct new units designed specifically for people at risk of becoming homeless.
The $90 million proposal is only a small fraction of Dayton’s $1.4 billion bonding request, which also includes measures to construct new college buildings and improve the state’s water quality. Opposing it is the Republican leaders’ request of only $600 million.
Regardless of the bonding bill’s final size, the Twin Cities are in dire need of more affordable housing. Although developers have already planned to construct an additional 1,000 affordable units in the Twin Cities by the end of 2016, experts believe the region would need to build about 4,200 low-income units every year in order to satisfy the current demand. 
State legislators ought to adopt the $90 million bonding proposal and take time to discuss the future of Minnesota’s affordable housing market. Innovative solutions like converting unused parts of Fort Snelling into low-income housing options could help revitalize the city while benefiting the public. 
Legislators should also seek ways to develop more affordable housing in suburban areas. Currently, the majority of development projects benefit Minneapolis and St. Paul despite the fact that far more people call the surrounding cities their home.