|3/26/2021 11:20:00 AM|
County Board to consider affordable housing Trust Fund
Chisago County commissioners are considering adopting an ordinance to create a Local Housing Trust Fund, which would be dedicated to supporting builders of affordable housing.
The latest study of housing in Chisago County, done in 2018, shows 1,635 households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. There were 4,562 household using 30 percent, to 50 percent, of income on housing. These levels are accepted by housing advocates as potentially placing the households in the situation of being unable to afford other essentials.
In the Chisago County study there were 496 renter households and 1.139 were owners in the 50 percent expenditure classification. Senior citizens were the largest single group paying 30 percent or more of their income for housing, even among seniors who own their dwelling.
The County Board last week set a public hearing for April 7, at 7 p.m. to hear from anyone who supports or opposes the development of a housing trust fund, by ordinance.
The county HRA/EDA has approved the draft wording and recommends the fund. The HRA/EDA plan is to allocate money to the fund from existing budget. The HRA/EDA owns housing currently generating revenue. The funding may also come from gifts, grants, donations by corporations or individuals or proceeds from sale of HRA/EDA parcels.
Applications would go through the HRA/EDA.
Grants are meant to go to projects that can “clearly identify” that the project won’t happen but for the assistance. Grants help address costs tied to municipal requirements, demolition costs, etc. Loans would be from zero to three percent interest. Payback capability will need to be demonstrated by applicants. The housing fund financing won’t be more than 10 percent of the project total and may range from $30,000 to $200,000.
Those who will dwell in the buildings must meet income guidelines. The multi-unit projects will also meet requirements for providing a certain number of units for those at income levels.
The County Board received a “profile” of the county housing scene prior to voting to set the public hearing.
The Minnesota Housing Partnership reports that “...of particular concern is the gap between the number of available units for extremely low income households and the number of people who need (the units.)”
There were several examples of other areas that have implemented a housing trust fund. The City of Red Wing, for example, established one in 2015. The city provides loan assistance to homebuyers and is considering a Tax Increment Financing program.
In Goodhue County their Trust Fund provides downpayment aid, a pool of funds for multi-family housing and a flexible fund.