Like many other regions around the country, the Twin Cities has seen a debate for years on where best to place new affordable housing resources, in low income communities where the greatest numbers of needy households reside, or in higher income suburban areas, often deemed “high opportunity” locations. In 2015, a group of community organizations and several local governments filed Fair Housing Act administrative complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Among other things, the complaints asserted that too many affordable housing resources had been allocated in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and not enough in Twin Cities suburbs.
In fact, almost everyone involved in these debates agrees there needs to be investments in both kinds of communities, but there is no clear consensus on what is a proper balance on achieving both “community revitalization” and “mobility” goals.
The starting point in considering this issue is looking at where new affordable housing has been built in the region to date. Determining this would appear to be a pretty simple question, but it turns out to be quite complex. HUD realized that no entity in the Twin Cities had a complete picture on where all Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties have been built over the last twenty years, so it turned to HJC as an objective expert source for help in figuring that out. What HJC discovered is that it took mixing and matching projects from seven different lists to get a complete picture, a project that is still underway. This not only raises concerns that no one has been looking at the big picture of where new affordable housing has been placed, but HJC also discovered that a significant number of these projects did not appear to be on any agency’s list for monitoring continued compliance by private owners with rent and income restrictions.
This work is continuing into 2016.