Ramsey County awards $ 8 million to build and preserve affordable housing

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Four affordable housing developments will receive a boost of nearly $ 8 million from Ramsey County as part of the $ 37 million in COVID-19 federal funds that county leaders have pledged for preservation and maintenance. building affordable housing.

Ramsey County Council just before Christmas approved the allocation, which will help build 234 affordable units and rehabilitate and preserve 107 more. The county is one of a number of funders for the projects, which are also supported by local, state, federal, nonprofit and private dollars.

“Two of them are preservation projects in the town of St. Paul and two of them are new construction projects in suburban Ramsey County,” said Max Holdhusen, senior director of housing and communities. county policies.

About 40% of the 341 units will have rent priced for those earning 30% of the area’s median income (MAI), which is about $ 22,000 for an individual, Holdhusen said.

Ramsey County leaders have compared spending on affordable housing to investing in critical infrastructure and estimate that about 15,000 affordable housing units are needed in the county.

“It takes about $ 36 million to create 300 units of 30% AMI over 30 years,” said Kari Collins, director of community and economic development. “It will take governments at all levels. It will take private and philanthropic partners to take a big bite out of this apple and create the infrastructure that is so desperately needed.”

County officials called for applications from developers in November, received eight, and selected four that met their criteria:

– A 114-unit seniors apartment complex project in Lauderdale will receive nearly $ 3 million from the county, covering 10% of the total development cost. The city owns the development site at 1795 Eustis Street, which now houses a century-old school that has been turned into a church. The vacant building will be razed as part of the redevelopment.

Lauderdale City Administrator Heather Butkowski has said affordable senior housing is badly needed as more aging residents want to downsize. “People want to age in place here in the community,” she said. “We might be small, but people love it here.”

Butkowski said the idea of ​​suburbs rejecting affordable housing is archaic. “Most people have embraced affordable housing as a necessary part of the mix,” she said, explaining that the city of 2,500 is helping fund the project through tax increases.

She said the county contribution allows them to set rents at the 30% and 50% MAI levels, making them more competitive when asking for the state money needed to complete the project.

“We’ve been trying to get state funding for a few years. This process is competitive and based on the final rents that will be the cheapest,” Butkowski said. “County money makes the project more affordable for end users and ultimately for this project … to cross the finish line.”

– A proposed 120-unit senior apartment complex in Mounds View will receive nearly $ 1.6 million from the county, which represents 5% of the total development cost. The town owns the property at 4889 Old Hwy. 8, the former Skyline Motel site which was razed in a controlled burn in 2019.

– The non-profit Aeon will purchase and rehabilitate the 100 Ridgewood Apartments, in the 1800 block of Wilson Avenue in St. Paul’s East Side. The county will contribute $ 1.8 million to increase the affordability of the units, covering 12% of development costs.

– Model Cities is partnering with the Frogtown Neighborhood Association and other non-profit organizations to acquire, rehabilitate and preserve a seven-unit building at 652 Sherburne Av. In Saint-Paul. All units will have rents set at 30% AMI. The county is contributing around $ 1.7 million, which will cover 75% of the development costs.

“It’s a site that’s been in need of investment for a long time,” Holdhusen said. “The community identified this and we wanted to support their mission there. “

Collins said the county would distribute more of the $ 37 million in COVID funds in 2022.

“We would really encourage ongoing projects to call us and let us know where things are going and if they see a gap for very affordable housing projects,” Collins said. “We want to accelerate, scale up and find a way to make these projects work.”

St. Paul has also pledged $ 37.5 million of its federal COVID-19 assistance to affordable housing. City leaders did not identify any specific developments.


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