ST. PAUL (May 12, 2014) – As light rail service is scheduled to begin, affordable housing options in the communities along the Central Corridor’s Green Line also are on track. This is the headline of the 2014 Progress Report released today by The Big Picture Project, a coalition of 18 organizations aimed at creating a big picture, unified housing strategy for the Central Corridor.
The Big Picture Project is hosted by the Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and Twin Cities LISC, and supported by the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Two years ago, this cross-disciplinary coalition that brings together government, developers, housing advocates and neighborhood groups rolled out a coordinated 10-year plan to create and preserve opportunities for affordable housing along an 11-mile stretch of the Central Corridor.
This big picture housing plan was created to attract and leverage anticipated investment within the Central Corridor – already a reported $1.7B – to stabilize existing housing stock, preserve affordable rentals, and make sure new development projects improve the quality of life for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Central Corridor Station Area Plans propose 17,000 new housing units will be constructed over the next 30 years”, said Jonathan Sage-Martinson, Executive Director, Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. “We need both a healthy production and a healthy balance of housing options to meet that goal, and to ensure communities are not displaced in the process.”
The Progress Report tracks key indicators over the past few years to see how change is happening along the Corridor and helps evaluate if adjustments need to be made. The report also highlights key initiatives and investments happening that respond to The Big Picture Project’s goals and recommendations. Trends include:
For every new subsidized unit on the Corridor, 12 market rate units were added, which indicates thepredominance of new housing in the corridor is non-subsidized (7% of all new units are considered affordable).
Compared to Minneapolis/St. Paul, a higher share of households in the corridor is cost-burdened.
Population in the Corridor is increasing, and this includes increases in Asian and Black populations.
Rents are up in throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul on the whole, and even more so in the corridor. High rent units (over $1,995) make up an increasing share of available units on the corridor, the majority of which are in Downtown Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, and Downtown St. Paul.
Assessments in the Corridor—one of the main levers of property taxes that can put pressure on low-income homeowners—have not gone up.
“The data show increasing population and development along the line, but – at least so far- these changes do not appear to be pushing out lower-income households”, said Jane Tigan, Research Associate, Wilder Research. “The short trends that we are tracking are, however, mixed, with rents along the line increasing fairly rapidly even while homeowners saw decreases in their tax-assessed property values.”
Specifically, the Big Picture Project set out to invest in the production and preservation of long-term affordable housing, with a goal of 4,500 new and preserved housing units by 2020. To date, 1,738 new and preserved units have been created, with 545 units in the pipeline. At this pace, 346 units are needed annually to meet the expanded goal, suggesting the goal is within reach.
“The need for affordable housing options throughout the region is great and will always exceed the goal”, said Eric Muschler, McKnight Foundation. “Instead, our coordinated efforts focus on the kind of communities we want to create, which are places of opportunity for all.”