Prioritizing Homes for Low-Income People
Core Values of Beacon:
- Quality affordable homes belong in all communities.
- Our society has the resources for all of us to have a home.
- We are called to overcome the systemic racism that causes housing inequities.
- Stable homes transform lives and communities.
Minnesota Housing, the state’s housing finance agency, recently proposed changes to the scoring criteria used to award funding to new affordable housing developments. This scoring process is known as the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), where points are given to a project based on pre-determined state priorities for housing. The higher the priority, the higher the points. The more points a project receives, the more likely it is to get funded. Since our state has chosen not to invest a sufficient amount toward the housing we need, the difference of a few points in the QAP can make or break a development.
The proposed changes attempt to focus funding to geographical areas with the greatest need. This is a good change which Beacon supports. The problem is in data used to measure “greatest need.” The proposed QAP “need for affordable housing” criteria uses the percentage of rents affordable at 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and percentage of renters paying over 30 percent of their income to rent. This data does not show the need for housing affordable at 30 percent AMI and census tracts break up communities and neighborhoods and show dramatically different scores depending on what side of the street you are on.
For example, Prairie Pointe in Shakopee would be the ONLY 100 percent supportive housing with rents affordable to people at 30 percent AMI in all of Scott County. Yet because of the data set used and its given census tract where it would be built, the area is deemed to have no “need” for affordable housing. The development would go from a terrific score under the current QAP to a terrible score under the proposed changes.
The proposed changes to the scoring criteria would keep essential homes from being built for the most vulnerable in most communities across the state.
- Increase the scoring points for housing at 30 percent AMI and for permanent supportive housing.
- Double the points for permanent supportive housing – there is a need everywhere for these homes and they require the most resources to create. Doubling the points would balance out geography scores and incentivize the creation of housing with services, one of Minnesota Housing’s Strategic goals.
- Create a clearer matrix for affordability that applies to all types of housing and provides increased incentives for rent-subsidized housing with rents at 30 percent AMI or below.
- Allow developments that submit this year to continue to claim the same geographic scoring in 2021 and 2022.
- This would stop dramatic point swings between years when scoring criteria changes.
Beacon is encouraging people to submit public comments to Minnesota Housing as part of their review process.
For a suggested template, please contact your congregational organizer or email Beacon’s director of public policy, Ben Helvick Anderson, at: firstname.lastname@example.org