University students might be even more pressed to find affordable housing near campus next year.
Because West Bank Community Development Corporation received a federal grant subsidizing low-income housing for its Seven Corners Apartments, full-time students will have to find another place to live when their leases run out.
Residents of the West Bank community said WBCDC has misrepresented its intentions.
“People are frustrated with the practices of the WBCDC,” said Spencer Blaw, a worker at the Minnesota Tenants Union.
Tim Mungavan, director of WBCDC, said the company received assistance from the federal government to keep units affordable, but the terms under which it accepted the funding will prohibit full-time students from renting the units.
Full-time students will not be evicted tomorrow, he said. It will be a gradual change over a period of five years as leases expire.
A full-time student would be able to live in a low-income unit if they are a roommate to someone who is not attending full-time.
“In order to keep rents affordable long-term, we got tax-exempt financing,” Mungavan said. “We’re committed to passing that savings on to tenants.”
This deal doesn’t satisfy residents who value living in a college neighborhood.
“The student housing shortage is serious. The University has had to put students up in hotels,” said David Markle, a West Bank resident. “It’s just foolish to exclude them from low-income housing.
“In a tight housing market, what can students do? Seven Corners is a matter of blocks from the University and they restrict students,” said Joan Scully, a longtime West Bank resident.
Scully said WBCDC is supposed to be the voice of the neighborhood.
“What’s happened is that the neighborhood has found we have to protect ourselves against them,” she said.
WBCDC officials said they haven’t lowered rents at Seven Corners yet, but said they have kept renters from feeling the 13 percent state increase in rent this year.
“We work very hard with the community and with Seven Corners residents. We have a goal to provide affordability,” Mungavan said.
Latasha Webb welcomes comments at [email protected]