Pilot grants aim to expand affordable homeownership choices

Date: Friday, January 27, 2023

This month, the Metropolitan Council made nine grants totaling $2 million to cities and county housing and economic development agencies to expand affordable homeownership opportunities in communities and for populations that are underserved.

Benefitting local governments include Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Chaska, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Roseville, Richfield, and Anoka, Ramsey, and Washington counties.

The Affordable Homeownership Pilot aims to address two priorities:

  • Racial equity: Create homeownership opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and other ethnic or racial groups that own homes at disproportionately lower rates than White households in the region; and
  • Geographic choice: Create affordable homeownership opportunities in parts of the region where it is most challenging to do so.

“This pilot program allows us to increase the amount of Livable Communities funding that is targeted to homeownership, especially for populations that historically have been discriminated against in the housing market,” said Lisa Barajas, director of community development for the Met Council. “Owning a home is an important path to building intergenerational wealth.”

The grants help advance the Met Council’s strategic priority to “become a region with a broader housing spectrum where all people can thrive.”

Grants made for new construction, home rehab across the region

All the grant awards will go to projects to build or rehabilitate homes affordable to households earning up to 80% of area median income. Proposals awarded funding are located in a variety of communities across the region and include the following:

Bloomington Housing and Redevelopment Authority — Bloomington Affordable Homeownership: $300,000 toward construction of four single-family homes on vacant lots. The homes will be marketed and sold for affordable homeownership, prioritizing first-time and/or first-generation buyers, with long-term affordability requirements of at least 15 years. Development partner is Habitat for Humanity.

Chaska — Ernst House Community Land Trust Project: $189,000 toward restoration and rehabilitation of the Ernst House from a commercial office back to a 3-bedroom single-family house, as well as the construction of three new single-family homes on the accompanying vacant lot. Once built, the homes will be sold to qualifying homebuyers as part of the Carver County Community Land Trust program. The homes will remain permanently affordable for subsequent buyers.

Graphic rendering shows aerial view of block with older commercial building, three new homes, trees, and green space. Eden Prairie & Homes Within Reach Community Land Trust Program: $160,000 toward construction or rehabilitation of two homes to increase high-quality homeownership opportunities for lower-income households. This partnership with West Hennepin Affordable Housing Land Trust has already brought 18 Eden Prairie homes into the land trust.

Golden Valley Home Ownership Program for Equity: $224,000 toward construction of two homes for affordable and equitable homeownership opportunity in the City of Golden Valley. Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation have applied for Minnesota Housing Impact Funds to assist in the construction of the homes, which will remain affordable for 99 years.

Minneapolis — Perpetually Affordable Homeownership in Minneapolis: $300,000 for the preservation of four homes for purchase by low-income households. The funding requested would be used in the 26 of 115 Minneapolis census tracts where the tract has a higher racial disparity in homeownership than the regional average. Partner is the City of Lakes Community Land Trust.

Ramsey County — Margaret Street Affordable Homeownership: $50,000 toward the purchase of a Saint Paul home to convey to a nonprofit organization that will sell the property to a homebuyer at or below 80% area median income. The county will also provide down-payment assistance to the homebuyer.

Richfield — Woodlawn Terrace Cooperative: $192,000 to add two new double-wide manufactured units that will provide an affordable option for families with children. The units are expected to sell for $150,000. Costs also include demolition of existing units and site preparation costs.

Two-story older home with open front porch.Roseville Economic Development Authority — Roseville Community Land Trust: $300,000 to help build new or acquire four homes to lower-income households to build community wealth through the Community Land Trust model in partnership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Eligible households must be first-time homebuyers unless a previous home was lost due to foreclosure.

Washington County Community Development Authority — Scattered Site Acquisition/Rehab 2022: $285,000 toward acquisition and rehabilitation of three homes for ownership by lower-income households in suburban communities in Washington and Anoka counties. Partner is Habitat for Humanity.

Pilot uses new application process

Normally, projects considered for the Local Housing Incentives Account of the Livable Communities program go through a single-application process with Minnesota Housing. With the homeownership pilot, the Met Council invited proposals directly to better align awards with our priorities to expand geographic choice and reduce racial disparities in affordable homeownership opportunity. The pilot was designed through engagement with stakeholders over a period of two years.

Livable Communities Act promotes prosperity, economic development

To be eligible and compete for Livable Communities funding, metro area cities must participate in the Livable Communities program, which provides funding for:

  • Affordable housing
  • Development that promotes mixed-use and connected land uses linking housing, jobs, and services
  • Brownfield or polluted-site cleanup
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Advancing equitable development outcomes

75 cities and 1 township participated in the Livable Communities program in 2022. The Affordable Homeownership Pilot grants were among a total of more than $25.8 million the Met Council awarded through the Livable Communities program in 2022.

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