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Proposal would fund program to create more affordable housing across Minnesota

City of Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Washburne, left, testifies before the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee March 6. Photo by Andrew VonBank
City of Lakes Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Washburne, left, testifies before the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee March 6. Photo by Andrew VonBank

Some communities in northern Minnesota are facing a “very difficult situation” as companies are planning to expand and hire workers, but there’s no place for people to live.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau) seeks to help change that.

The House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Police and Finance Committee on Tuesday held HF1535, as amended, over for future consideration. The companion, SF1497, is sponsored by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), and awaits action by the Senate Taxes Committee.

The House bill is projected to double the number of homeownership units across the state, said Jeff Washburne, executive director of City of Lakes Community Land Trust.

It would help create affordable housing by appropriating money to the Workforce Affordable Homeownership Development Program, which provides funds for residential housing development, rehabilitation and land development.

The program, established by the Legislature in 2016, included a one-time appropriation of $750,000. But this bill would create a dedicated source of funding for the program for the next 10 years by using year-over-year increases in the mortgage registry and deed tax, Washburne said.

The program would also provide loans in addition to grants, and allow cities and tribal governments to participate. Previously, only nonprofits, cooperatives and community land trusts were eligible to receive grant money.


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