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Housing priorities set

Published (2/22/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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The House Housing Policy and Finance and Public Health Finance Division approved its $32.5 million bonding request Feb. 20.

HF2734, sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls), would appropriate $30 million to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to finance loans and grants for publicly owned emergency shelters, temporary or transitional housing, permanent rental housing and rehabilitation costs to preserve public housing. It now goes to the House Finance Committee.

Also included in the bill is a $2.5 million grant for a Hennepin County Opportunity Center that would provide a single site to connect the homeless with needed services. Formally introduced as HF3153, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), the center is part of the county’s Heading Home Hennepin 10-year plan to end homelessness.

The center would provide services such as housing, dental and medical in one location.

Another bill provision would require the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to establish a working group to address the mortgage foreclosure crisis and submit recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2009. The agency is to consider:

• the use of certain bonds to prevent residential mortgage foreclosures and to address the effects of them,

• means to make Community Activity Set Aside mortgages more accessible to neighborhood land trusts, and

• alternative tax classifications for neighborhood land trust properties to make taxation of properties more equitable and to provide an incentive for greater use of land trusts.

Jeff Washburne, director of City of Lakes Community Land Trust, said land trusts create ownership opportunities for low- to middle-income people through such means as financing management and resident training.

Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) said that bonding obligations could constrain future legislatures.

A Senate companion, SF2829, sponsored by Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St.Paul) awaits action in the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate bill contains language only pertaining to land trusts.

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