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Minneapolis grants $18M to add lower-cost apartments

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The city of Minneapolis is kicking in $18 million to help fund projects that will preserve or produce about 1,000 units of rental housing.

Forty percent of the units will be within reach of families making about $30,000 a year. Rent would not be much more than a week's income for them.

“We are focusing public resources where they belong. We are getting great leverage for taxpayer money,” said David Frank, the city’s planning and economic development director.

Minneapolis council member Cam Gordon
Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon at a 2015 news conference outside City Hall.
Jennifer Simonson | MPR News 2015

City Council member Cam Gordon said the city is determined to raise the supply of affordable housing.

“Free enterprise is not solving the housing crisis and the problems in Minneapolis. And that's why we're there, rolling up our sleeves, trying to get this done,” Gordon said.

City residents have pressured the council to create more affordable housing, he added.

“They’re worried about how their children can afford to buy a house in the city they grew up in. They’re worried about seeing their neighbors having to move out because housing is getting too expensive for them,” he said.

About half of renters in Minneapolis struggle to pay rent. A household is considered cost-burdened if housing costs exceed 30 percent of income.

Since 2000, Minneapolis has lost about 15,000 housing units considered affordable for people earning half of the median area income, or about $50,000 a year.

The Metropolitan Council says Minneapolis added just 230 affordable apartments in 2017, at the same time developers built 1,800 more expensive apartments.

The winning projects have to keep units affordable for low-income people for at least 30 years. The city money is typically in the form of loans that could be forgiven. The funds will support a variety of options, including housing for senior citizens and the city's Native American community.