A month ago, we were dealing with a foot of snow. Now, spring is truly here and summer is around the corner. It’s Minnesota. Here is the June 2018 Homes Update.
We start off with the Twin Cities’ light rail system. What does this have to do with homes? The Blue and Green lines are seeing an increasing number of persons experiencing homelessness using the trains and stations as needed shelter due to a lack of available shelter beds and affordable homes. Minnesota Public Radio has a story that paints the situation in vivid colors.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made affordable homes a major issue in his winning campaign. In late April, Mayor Frey released his plan for increasing the number of affordable homes in the city. It centers on maintaining Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing:
Frey unveiled his new plan called 4d earlier this month. If property owners are willing to keep rent for 20 percent of their units at what is considered an affordable housing rate for that area, the city will give landlords a 20 percent break on their property taxes.
Edina Mayor Jim Hovland met with mayors of other Minnesota cities to talk about affordable homes. He noted the stark change in attitudes on affordable homes in the last decade:
“…the change has been dramatic in this last 10-year period,” he added as he addressed an audience at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, host of the 2018 Affordable Housing Summit. The conference brought together developers, advocates and local government leaders from across the state April 19.
The past three Quality of Life surveys administered by the city of Edina demonstrate the changed mindset witnessed by Hovland.
“Affordable housing is the number one issue that’s been raised as a concern in our community, so we take that to heart,” he said.
About 100 people lost their homes when the Lowry Grove mobile home park closed last year. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that nonprofit developer Aeon is seeking to build a new apartment complex close to the site in a bid to keep affordable homes in the area.
Last month, the St. Louis Park city council voted unanimously on an ordinance that protects tenants when owners raise rents after buying that property. Read the Minnesota Public Radio story on what this means for low-income residents in St. Louis Park.
When we think of public housing in the United States, many people tend to only see the downsides. Pamela Phillips grew up in public housing and wants to change the narrative. Through her position at Barnard College, she is behind a storytelling project called “Changing the Narrative.” The project includes memories from people who lived in public housing with a goal of changing the perception of this much-maligned form of affordable housing.
We don’t usually think of public housing as works of art. Europe gives us a look at how public housing can not only give people a place to call home, but can look beautiful as well.
Located an hour south of Denver, Colorado Springs is the state’s second largest city with a population over 400,000. As more people move to the city, housing is becoming more and more scarce. The city is looking at solutions, and one idea is using a form of housing used for mostly environmental and consumerist reasons: tiny houses.
Seattle is like many cities in the US in that it’s facing a housing shortage. Seattle wants to fund affordable housing, but how to do it? The City Council has come up with an idea: a tax on large businesses per employee.. On May 14th the City Council passed the proposal ,nicknamed the “Amazon Tax”( after one of Seattle’s largest employers) it would work in the following way:
The City Council unanimously passed a compromise plan Monday that taxes businesses making at least $20 million in gross revenues about $275 per full-time worker each year – lower than the $500 per worker initially proposed. The so-called "head tax" would raise roughly $48 million a year to build new affordable housing units and provide emergency homeless services.
Being without a home can take its toll regardless of age, especially on the youngest. The Daily Beast reports on how experiencing homelessness can affect a child’s health both physically and mentally.
Finally, when you think of the housing crisis, you tend to think of large cities and metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. But the lack of affordable housing is also a problem in small cities like Boise, Idaho. A mixture of factors have made housing a challenge, and the solutions are not always well-received. Huff Post has the story on how small cities are dealing with the lack of housing and increasing the public will to solve the problem.
That’s it for the Homes Update for June. See you next month.