Amendments are proposed in response to staff direction 2017-00422 to amend the Unified Housing Policy ("Policy") to expressly state that City-assisted housing projects are required to accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) and comply with affirmative marketing requirements. Proposed amendments include this language.
Additional amendments are proposed to the Policy to better respond to City priorities, codify existing practice, and better align policy requirements with potential market opportunities. Specifically, proposed amendments are summarized below.
Clarification that the requirements of the Policy apply not only to residential projects of ten or more units that are financially assisted by the City, but also those projects that are developed on City-owned property. City-owned property in minority or poverty concentrated areas is exempt from this requirement. This proposed amendment would support City affordable housing goals and codify current practice of prioritizing development proposals that include affordable housing. This policy clarification will help set clearer expectations in future requests for proposals for development on City owned property. The requirement would not apply to projects that are underway, including Humboldt Greenway.
Clarification that unless stated otherwise by specific program requirements, all new construction projects subject to this Policy will be subject to a minimum of a 30-year affordability period. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund program criteria were changed in 2017 to require a minimum of a 30-year affordability period. The proposed amendment to the Policy will set the standard for the development of future programs.
Change in the affordability requirement for ownership projects to 10 percent of the units at 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Currently, the Policy requires 20 percent of the units to be affordable at 60 percent of the AMI, for both rental and ownership projects. The current requirement applied to ownership projects is inconsistent with existing City programs that support affordable homeownership in 1-4 unit buildings, such as Minneapolis Homes, Homeownership Opportunity Minneapolis, Homeownership Works and other affordable homeownership programs that serve households with incomes at or below 115% or 80% of AMI, depending on the specific program requirements. In no other cases does the City apply a 60 percent AMI limit to homeownership programs. The proposed change to 10 percent of units at 80 percent of the AMI will improve the feasibility of securing affordability in multi-family ownership projects and reduce the amount of subsidy needed. This change is also consistent with recent policy adopted by the City of St. Louis Park. Staff will evaluate the ownership affordability requirement for feasibility, cost effectiveness of City assistance, and production results. Without this policy change, the City is not in a position to promote mixed income housing in future proposed ownership projects.
Clarification that the City's policy goal of preservation includes the preservation of Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing.
The Unified Housing Policy will be further reviewed as part of the housing task force work for the City’s 2018 update to the Comprehensive Plan.
Proposed amendments were released for public comment on November 14, 2017. Attached are the two public comments received through November 28, 2017.