[Editor’s Note: Affordable housing is a local, state and national issue. The Community Reporteris beginning to work on a series of articles on the topic.
In November, the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) unanimously approved three resolutions addressing the broad continuum of St. Paul housing needs. The resolutions include new program guidelines for a down payment assistance program and Rent Supplement Pilot, and annual distribution of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
“Ensuring all of us can access safe, stable and affordable housing is vital to the future of our city,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “These new programs expand our toolbox and help us keep this promise for everyone in our community.”
The down payment assistance program will provide homeownership opportunities to applicants at or below 60% Area Median Income (AMI). The program aims to improve housing stability in neighborhoods vulnerable to displacement and gentrification pressures. Loans up to $40,000 will be offered for down payment and closing costs at 0% interest with a 30-year deferred term. Program launch is anticipated for Spring 2020, with $1.5 million allocated from the Housing Trust Fund.
The Rent Supplement Pilot will provide St. Paul families a $300 monthly rent supplement and ongoing supportive services for three years, in partnership with the St. Paul Public Schools. The pilot will serve households with incomes at or below 30% AMI, who pay 40% or more of their income for rent, are not receiving another housing subsidy, and have at least one Pre-K to 3rd-grade student enrolled in a participating school. Pilot launch is anticipated for early 2020, and $2 million from the Housing Trust Fund has been allocated.
Both programs are funded by the Housing Trust Fund, developed to produce, preserve, and protect housing affordability for St. Paul residents. The contributions of flexible City dollars along with federal and state financing tools are intended to address the current crisis of housing affordability in St. Paul and invest in a future city that works for all. Additional funding for the Rent Supplement Pilot has been provided by the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation.
“These programs highlight the creative thinking and use of the Housing Trust Fund as a valuable financial tool to help address our affordable housing crisis,” said Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Chair Chris Tolbert.
Recommendations for 2020 Low Income Housing Tax Credits include more than $1 million in credits to be reserved or reallocated over two years for the development of 79 affordable units. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credits program offers a reduction in federal tax liability to owners and investors in low-income housing developments that comply with rent and tenant income restrictions for a period of 30 years. Projects recommended include the North West University Dale construction at 625 University Ave., and Parkway Apartments, proposed at East 7th St. and Bush Ave.“There is no single strategy or program that can solve our housing crisis,” said Housing Director Kayla Schuchman. “Our team is dedicated to