Jul 23, 2019

The Hometown Tour: Minneapolis

Axios' Kim Hart at the roundtable in Minneapolis.

Axios' Kim Hart kicking off the roundtable discussion this Monday. Photo: Lucas Botz for Axios

On Monday, Axios' Cities Correspondent Kim Hart hosted a roundtable discussion on affordable housing, the impact of the housing crisis on the local community, and the recently implemented Minneapolis 2040 plan. The morning's conversation focused on how to make systematic change and the importance of collaboration across the public and private sectors.

Communities that are most affected by housing shortages

Kari Dziedzic at the Axios table this past Monday.
Minnesota Senator Kari Dziedzic discussing housing policy at the table. Photo: Lucas Botz for Axios

How the housing crisis impacts different communities was central to the morning's discussion.

  • Rep. Mohamud Noor, Minnesota House of Representatives, stressed the importance of addressing income gaps as a part of the housing crisis: "With homelessness, how do we go from where they are, to them buying a house for $300k? [We have to address] the gap in income and figure out what people are able to pay."
  • Neal Loidolt, President and CEO of the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans highlighted the efforts to assist homeless veterans in Minneapolis, and the need for recognizing veterans as a vulnerable group when it comes to housing.
  • Rochelle Dotzenrod, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo brought up other overlooked vulnerable communities, especially ones with immediate housing needs like women and children who are living in unsafe or unstable environments.

The role of the private sector

Neal Loidolt in discussion at the Axios rountable.
Neal Loidolt, President and CEO of the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans highlights the importance of affordable housing for recent veterans. Photo: Lucas Botz for Axios

The collaborative relationship between the public and private sector was a significant topic of the discussion, especially in the ways that the private sector could supplement the public sector efforts to create low-cost housing.

  • Ellen Sahli, President of the Family Housing Fund, on how people are approaching the topic of housing from their own perspectives: "The conversation about housing is omnipresent. [Across industries] we have the opportunity to wrestle with what kinds of strategies will work. We need many tools in our toolbox to tackle this issue"
  • Jeff Washburn, Executive Director of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, on how to integrate public and private sector strategies: "We need shared equity in homeownership...and low-interest investments...We have to have more alignment with our policies and our funding. Every lens [through which we view these issues] is through an equity lens or an affordable housing lens."

Lowering building costs and preservation

Ellen Sahli, President of the Family Housing Fund at this Monday's roundtable discussion.
Ellen Sahli, President of the Family Housing Fund, at the Axios roundtable. Photo: Lucas Botz for Axios
  • Greg Russ, CEO of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority on the importance of preservation as a tool to maintain existing numbers of affordable units while development is ongoing: "Preservation needs to become a bigger part of the conversation in regards to providing affordable housing... How do we keep anything intact for families?"
  • Christian Lawrence, Founder and CEO of Rise Modular discussed the high expense of construction as another obstacle in building more affordable housing units, and the promise of modular units as one potential solution to this: "Building costs have risen too much, and I don’t see that reversing in the coming years."

Thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

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