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House panel considers bills to increase housing infrastructure bonds

A pair of legislators have $500 million worth of ideas to increase the amount of low-income housing and the type of units to be constructed.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-Falcon Heights), HF3244 would authorize $400 million in housing infrastructure bonds and add to the list of how such funding could be spent. It would allow bond proceeds “to finance the costs of construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of permanent housing that is affordable to households with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income.”

“This tool enables us to partner with nonprofits, so we leverage a good bit of private money as well,” Hausman said of her bill that has no Senate companion. “I think $3 for every $1 of state money, something like that.”

Additionally, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency would need to give preference to projects that provide affordable housing for households at or below 30% of the area median income.

“We’ve heard Minnesota Housing say that they say no to three of every four requests that they get for this funding,” Hausman said. “So, we’re making more aggressive asks this year. More funding is in needed to make an impact on our housing shortage.”

Along with the $400 million in housing infrastructure bonds, $100 million in bond proceeds would be appropriated to preserve low-income public housing.

The bill was held over Tuesday by the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion, as was HF2695, as amended, that would require projects funded by housing infrastructure bonds to include physical and sensory accessible units.

Sponsored by Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL-Eagan), it would require housing with more than four units to have the greater of one unit or 5% of the total number to comply with the Minnesota Accessibility Code, including a roll-in shower, bed height requirements and clear floor space.

Sensory accessible units would be required to include soundproofing between shared walls, no fluorescent lighting in units and common areas, and low-fume paint, low-chemical carpet and low-chemical carpet glue in units and common areas.

“People with disabilities deserve affordable and accessible housing in inclusive settings where they feel at home,” Reyer said.

Sen. Zach Duckworth (R-Lakeville) sponsors the companion, SF2603. It awaits action by the Senate Housing Finance and Policy Committee.

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