Neighborhood NewsBusinessPublic Interest

Housing, Economic Growth and More – The Year Ahead for the St. Paul HRA

Council Perspectives

St. Paul City Council Ward 2

It’s a new year with a first-of-its-kind City Council, and there’s a lot of work to do.

I’m honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to chair the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). The HRA is responsible for much of the work I believe is critical to building a fair and just community – creating more affordable housing and keeping our small businesses strong. To make sure people at all income levels can afford to live in St. Paul, we need many more affordable homes of many more types and sizes in all of our neighborhoods. To keep our neighborhoods strong, we need to support the small businesses that are at the heart of them. 

I have a few ideas for how the HRA can be more effective at this work this year.

First, I believe we need to set a vision for housing development. Laying out a clear vision will help us know exactly where we are and where we need to go. It will signal both to the community and to potential developers what kind of development we want to see and where. Our housing vision should include goals for how much affordable housing we want to preserve and produce, tactics to help low-income and BIPOC families buy homes and tools to encourage the development of new types of housing, like twin homes and accessory dwelling units.

Next, we need a strategy for boosting commercial corridors citywide. From Cesar Chavez to Grand, Rice to 7th, Payne to Snelling, our retail arteries need support to thrive in a post-pandemic reality.  The HRA can create a strategic toolbox of policy, infrastructure and financial tools to bring to bear when commercial areas are struggling.

These and other new goals will take time to work through, so I introduced a change to our HRA by-laws mandating that we meet every week, instead of every other week as we have in the past. More frequent meetings will allow us to be more transparent and thoughtful. We’ll have more time to consider complicated housing and development items before we vote on them and the public will have more of a chance to weigh in. The new schedule will also allow more time for presentations and discussion of complex financing tools like TIF and housing bonds, in-depth looks at major development sites like Highland Bridge, Hillcrest and Central Station, and analysis of policies to keep properties on the tax rolls and develop them to their highest and best use.

I hope you’ll attend an HRA meeting or tune in online this year. And as always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on what else we should be prioritizing. You can reach me at or at 651-266-8620.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *