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$50M from UnitedHealth goes to affordable housing projects

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UnitedHealth Group is putting up tens of millions of dollars to fund affordable housing projects in Minnesota.

The big health insurer has committed $50 million to a Greater Minnesota Housing Fund project to develop affordable housing. Companies that contribute to the fund receive federal tax credits.

So far the investment has produced 118 affordable housing units, including a recently completed 50-unit townhome project in Ramsey, said Warren Hanson, president of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.

"We call that workforce housing," Hanson said. "Those people are probably fully employed. They might even be two wage earners in the family but they may be doing service work or retail clerk work or maybe assembly work and they're probably getting paid $12 [to] $14 an hour and just need affordable rents."

Hanson said a few upcoming projects will be completely reserved for homeless families.

UnitedHealth Group also is providing funding for low-income housing in Illinois.

Tom McClinch, vice president of investment management at UnitedHealth Group, said the company is especially keen to promote projects that he says have "an important supportive component to them."

"Typically ... 20-25 percent of the units of a project will have that, where there's on-site services for physically or mentally disabled people and also for placement of people who have been homeless in the past," he said.