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State borrowing to fund more than $160M in housing projects

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The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency has announced more than $160 million in affordable housing grants to help fund almost 80 projects around the state.

  The record-breaking total was made possible by $100 million in state borrowing that state lawmakers authorized this year.

  In spite of the cash infusion, there wasn't enough money to fund all the proposals the state received, said State Rep. Alice Hausman of St. Paul, chair of the House Capitol Investment Committee.

  "Grant applications started coming in and the commissioner ran out of money before she ran out of need," said Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. "And so, we know there are some disappointments. There are worthy projects not funded. And what does that tell us? We're not finished yet."

The agency said grant requests outstripped available funds three-to-one.

  The single largest grant award, for $19 million, went to Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis for a major renovation and expansion of the downtown St. Paul Dorothy Day Center homeless shelter.  

Catholic Charities has operated the shelter for more than 30 years. CEO Tim Marx said the expansion will include building an additional shelter close to the current location.

  "Then we will bring a new building to the current site of the Dorothy Day Center with even more housing that will have connection to services — health care, job training, meals and other opportunities — the intent of which is to prevent homelessness and then solve it once it occurs," Marx said.

• Earlier: As homelessness overwhelms, Dorothy Day Center struggles, plans