When North Minneapolis was separated and isolated by highways it was a big deal, and similarly, we need big ideas and plans to reverse that tragedy in order to address the housing needs of the current and future residents.
Below, I have listed some ideas that I thought about as long- and short-term solutions. They do not necessarily need to be taken at face value, but I hope it will spur some out-of-the-box big ideas among our elected officials.
Short-term – Homelessness
I see so many unused spaces that could be used to house our homeless population during the winter months. Examples would be the fairgrounds in St. Paul, Dunwoody area parking lots, and areas used for summer carnivals, etc. etc. On those sites, we could place SRO (single room only) modular units with or without a private bathroom, electricity for a microwave and be located near transit.
These modular units are attractive and colorful and removable, if needed, during the summer months. The areas I’m recommending already have a hard surface.
Fourplexes in Minneapolis
I am currently not a fan of the City of Minneapolis recommendation that allows for the building of fourplexes across the City, especially in areas with SFR’s. Instead, I would recommend that all fourplexes built in areas where SFR’s (Single Family Residence) already exist must be built in the following manner: a maximum of a duplex structure with a livable, finished basement and a garage that has an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) above.
This will hopefully keep in line with the SFR-look and feel of the neighborhood instead of creating a “rental” approach. I believe that homeownership should be a top priority for the City of Minneapolis and rentals being a less desirable, but necessary, option.
Paths to homeownership that the City can champion
I don’t claim to be a financial scholar, but I am of the opinion that City government has the following financial tools at their disposal to greatly jump start homeownership and provide options to reduce displacement, address the housing crisis, increase the tax base, and have many other positive outcomes.
- The City can float a bond(s) to either repay or not funding to rehab the 273 boarded-up, vacant buildings owned by the City or Hennepin County.
- After rehab, these homes would be made available to residents whose PITI (Principal Interest Taxes Insurance) would be a little less than they are currently paying for rent. This would, of course, increase homeownership and also free up the rental units these residents currently occupy.
- The City could supplement the bond with federal funds like LivCommunities, Section 108 funds, and Promise Zone benefits. These funds could be used to supplement developer costs.
The City of Minneapolis can accomplish most of the above ideas without any funds from the State; how amazing would it be if they also garnered their support and funds.
Catherine Fleming is CEO at Business Direct LLC