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Minnesota: Required Comprehensive Plan Updates and Affordable Housing in the Metro Area

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Minnesota: Required Comprehensive Plan Updates and Affordable Housing in the Metro Area

The Metropolitan Council (Met Council) - policy-making body of the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota seven-county metropolitan area - recently released draft Need numbers in the proposed amendment to the 2040 Housing Policy Plan (HPP). Insight gained during public input sessions from the 189-entity metro region, identified that, in general, there is a need for additional affordable housing. 
Affordable housing isn’t new to the regional plan, however, the last true housing plan by Met Council was in 1985. Thrive MSP 2040 HPP focuses on a lot of elements. Met Council will expect each city to have a detailed affordable housing plan. Boilerplate goals and objectives won’t be sufficient. Cities will need to specify in their plan how they will strive to achieve their affordable housing goals, where affordable housing will be placed, and how to assist projects to completion. 
Some cities will only need minor adjustments or amendments to their existing affordable housing plans, and others might need to revamp their entire plan.  Regardless, cities can begin thinking about their comprehensive plans now.
  1. Start discussions at the city staff level.  Look at the existing number of affordable housing units in your community.  Discuss ideas that might work and what ideas might not for your community.
  2. Evaluate your current housing stock. Look for parcels the city owns that can be utilized for affordable housing. Does it make sense to have a higher density project in one location over another?  Identify nearby transit, service, and resources within the area.
  3. Balance your housing stock. Meet the housing needs of your community’s workforce. Communities that are more service-oriented may be different than those that are manufacturing-based communities. Create a balanced housing stock that entices people to live in your community versus commuting into it.
  4. Develop a plan for existing stock. Some communities may have sufficient affordable housing. Those communities will need to develop programs that maintain existing housing, plan for upgrades, and preserve their current options.
  5. Identify financial and regulatory mechanisms. Cities might need to develop regulatory flexibilities or use financial incentives in order to develop more affordable housing.
Met Council will release system statements in September and comprehensive plans will need to be updated within three years.  Start thinking now about resources you have and what low hanging fruit is available. Whether you have an abundant amount of affordable housing or not, you can get a start on your comprehensive plan and talk about housing issues in your community.
For more information on developing your Comprehensive Plan, contact MSA's Jason Valerius

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