Minnesota task force addresses affordable housing shortage

Published 8:22 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota housing task force is recommending broad changes in funding, technology and regulation to meet a statewide demand for affordable housing.

The task force has made 30 recommendations and identified six goals to improve access to housing, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed the task force last year.

The task force suggested building 300,000 new homes by 2030 to address the state’s affordable housing shortage.

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“What that really means in practical terms is that we have to step up by about 10,000 more homes per year for the next five years,” said Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Commissioner Mary Tingerthal. “We’re currently building about 20,000 homes a year and that simply is not enough to house a growing population.”

The task force also called for a dedicated and permanent source of funding for affordable housing programs, but didn’t identify how much funding would be needed for such programs.

Many of the state’s residents already pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. That means more subsidies are needed to make affordable apartment buildings financially feasible, said task force member and Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.

“We can’t construct a building that really requires $1,500 a month for rent and expect them to only charge $800 a month rent. Somebody needs to make up that gap,” Larson said.

The cost of housing is rising faster than wages, according to the task force. The 28-member task force said cutting costs is critical.

“If we don’t somehow find a way to limit the rate at which the cost of building housing is growing this could be a losing battle,” said Tingerthal.

The task force also recommended creating a statewide panel to evaluate ways the regulatory burden might be eased. Government regulation adds more than 20 percent to the cost of a new home, according to the National Association of Home Builders.