|4/16/2021 12:08:00 PM|
by DENISE MARTINThe Chisago County Board voted 5-0 last week to adopt an ordinance putting a Housing Trust Fund into existence. Chisago will be only the fourth county in Minnesota to have such a financial tool.
According to the presenter for the public hearing on the proposal, Kathy Bennett, “...the beauty of this fund is it’s flexible” It can be used to leverage other funding programs that have restricted donation policy. It is able to accept private donations. The Trust can provide gap money for housing projects, it can financially assist a for- profit or a not-for-profit need, and assist developers of projects for renters and/or owners.
The county’s HRA/EDA Board recommended the trust fund be established. Bennett is on the Board as a citizen-appointee, and she said the need for workforce housing was highlighted as corporations are reporting the local workforce isn’t sufficient for what’s needed. “Available laborforce is a top site selection consideration,” when economic development representatives inquire about sites, Bennett stated.
Unhappily, she also added, the homelessness numbers in the county have been increasing since 2000 and a third of citizens without a home are children.
There were many letters of support in the County Board meeting packet from commercial/industrial companies here, that cite the need for affordable “workforce” housing.
Commissioner Mike Robinson remarked it will be nice to see these firms step-up “and bring their checkbooks” (to donate.
He continued, , “The laborforce isn’t here because (local) companies don’t pay” compared to what people can make in the metro.
The HUD guidelines displayed at the public hearing show that the median family income in the Bloomington-metro is $103,400 and in Chisago County this is $83,464 (for a four-person family income.)
The vote enacting the Trust Fund was 5-0 to, as Bennett phrased it, “Send a message to developers that we have an interest in housing.”
Additionally, it was noted that the county HRA/EDA owns six housing developments and there are rarely vacancies. But these fill the need for seniors as 55-plus dwellings and apartments.
Nancy Hoffman, HRA/EDA Executive Director remarked that her directors okayed $150,000 from the program’s budget to get the fund started.
Any philanthropic donors or housing programs interested in looking into supporting this housing effort can contact Hoffman as administrator of the Fund, her office, is 651-674-5664 or e mail to email@example.com.