The Artery in Hopkins, Boatworks Commons in White Bear Lake, and Northern Stacks industrial complex in Fridley. They’re among the hundreds of metro area developments that have received Livable Communities funds since the program was established in 1995 to support local economic development and affordable housing.
Grants made to participating local governments
The Metropolitan Council administers the Livable Communities program. Council officials say $25 million will be available in 2021 to eligible and participating cities to help fund:
Affordable housing: $4 million (Local Housing Incentives Account, or LHIA)
Development that promotes mixed-use and connected land uses linking housing, jobs, and services, including transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly development: $15 million (Livable Communities Demonstration Account — LCDA — and LCDA Transit Oriented Development — LCDA TOD)
Brownfield or polluted-site cleanup for redevelopment: $6 million (Tax Base Revitalization Account, or TBRA)
“The Livable Communities program is the Council’s primary financial tool for helping local governments to advance goals of livability and prosperity,” said program manager Tara Beard. “A robust region relies on healthy communities, and vice versa. Livable Communities grants provide a strategic investment in our ability to achieve long-term sustainability, equity, and economic vitality as a region, and as communities and neighborhoods.”
Applications are due and grants are awarded according to the following schedule:
2021 LCA Funding Schedule
Application Due Date
Committee Development Committee and Council Awards
|LCDA and LCDA-TOD Pre-development (Spring)
|LCDA and LCDA-TOD Pre-development (Fall)
Council engages partners to update funding criteria
New in 2021 are changes in project scoring criteria. Council staff, working with partners and stakeholders, spent months considering how projects are evaluated to ensure the best and most strategic outcomes.
“The Legislature enacted the Livable Communities program 26 years ago, so there’s value in making adjustments every now and again to ensure the program is achieving its intended purpose,” said Beard. “With these changes in scoring criteria we really want to recommit to the foundational purpose of the program: to support a full range of housing choices, provide living wage jobs, and promote connected, efficient development throughout the region,” she said.
“The objective is to encourage communities to be very intentional about development that benefits their community as well as the greater region. The criteria also prioritize the Council’s focus on projects that are driven by community participation and contribute to reducing disparities in our development patterns, and increasing access to opportunities,” said Beard.
“While these are not new goals, they become especially pronounced as we see our way through a global pandemic,” she said.
The Livable Communities program has contributed to cleanup and redevelopment that resulted in thousands of new jobs, created thousands of new and updated homes for lower-income families, and helped to leverage billions of public and private dollars for investment in economic opportunity.
March 11 webinar will review scoring, eligible activities, and more
Council staff plan a March 11, 2021 webinar to walk participants through the Livable Communities program. Staff will review scoring, eligible activities, fund availability, and review the application process for pre-development and development.
Register for the Livable Communities webinar