FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2021
City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County to invest $74 Million in Federal ARPA Funding for Deeply Affordable Housing
Saint Paul to invest in a 30% AMI Housing Fund Which Combined with Ramsey County Housing Investments Will be Among the Largest Public Investments in Deeply Affordable Housing in the Country
SAINT PAUL, MN – Today, after months of community outreach and deliberations, Mayor Melvin Carter announced City plans to invest $37.5 million into a 30% Area Median Income (AMI) Housing Fund initiative to increase the supply of deeply affordable housing in Saint Paul. The announcement, made alongside Ramsey County Commissioners and the Saint Paul City Council, aligns with Ramsey County’s prior commitment of $37 million for a combined investment of $74 million of federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding for deeply affordable housing throughout Saint Paul and Ramsey County. This historic $74 million investment – one of the largest in the nation – will dramatically expand affordable housing in the east metro including the construction of up to 1,000 permanent units in Saint Paul at 30% AMI.
“This unprecedented investment in our most vulnerable residents reflects the magnitude of the unprecedented housing crisis we are facing,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.
“We are very grateful for the city’s commitment today of $37 million and the ongoing partnership to ensure that every one of these combined $74 million dollars in ARPA funds is strategically invested to help provide stable, permanent housing in Saint Paul and across Ramsey County,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Toni Carter.
“All residents of Ramsey County should have a safe and stable place to call home. We are proud to stand with our partners today committing to investing our resources to house those who need it the most,” said Ramsey County Housing and Redevelopment Authority Chair Trista MatasCastillo.
THE ONGOING IMPACTS OF THE HOUSING CRISIS
Like communities across the nation, Saint Paul continues to experience a housing crisis. Well before the pandemic, this crisis emerged from diminishing housing supply and affordability gaps caused by stagnant wages and rising rents. The ongoing impacts and continued uncertainties of the global public health and economic crisis continue to exacerbate these factors.
Notably, the affordability gap is most pronounced for Saint Paul’s lowest-income residents, who are often cost-burdened with few housing options and vulnerable to housing instability or homelessness. Moreover, these gaps disproportionately impact BIPOC residents within the city.
“For my North End neighbors, additional 30% area median income units are an absolute necessity. This significant commitment from Saint Paul and Ramsey County will literally open doors for our families,” said Saint Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen.
“This is an essential investment for stable, safe and quality affordable housing for Saint Paul families,” said Ward 3 Councilmember and Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board Chair Chris Tolbert. “We are grateful for President Biden, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith and Representative McCollum for making this major investment in affordable housing possible.”
Thirty-nine percent of Saint Paul renters, or approximately 22,300 households, are extremely low-income, meaning their incomes are at or below 30% Area Median Income (AMI). Currently, with approximately 11,560 rental units available at this income level, Saint Paul has a gap of nearly 11,000 units. This investment into deeply affordable housing will help close this gap.
This historic fund is a giant step forward that follows an array of investments led by Mayor Carter and his administration over the past several years. Focused on preserving existing affordable housing, building community wealth, and supporting Saint Paul’s lowest-income residents, the Mayor outlined a comprehensive housing strategy in 2019 leading to investments including the 4(D) Affordable Housing Incentive program, the Families First Housing Pilot, and a new Down Payment Assistance Program.
Additionally, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Ramsey County Board Chair Toni Carter announced today that Saint Paul and Ramsey County would be joining the Biden Administration’s House America initiative. House America is an all-hands-on-deck effort to address the nation’s homelessness crisis. House America is a national partnership in which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) invites mayors, county leaders, Tribal nation leaders, and governors to use the historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness.
“I’m grateful for this investment in our communities for providing deeply affordable housing for my constituents,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao. “However, $74 million does not go far enough to truly address the housing crisis we are facing at this moment. I look forward to working with our partners at all levels of government to continue finding ways to keep Saint Paul livable and affordable for everyone.”
“As we recover from the pandemic and build for the future, we need to make sure every Saint Paul family has a place to call home,” said Ward 2 Councilmember Rebecca Noecker. “I’m proud that Ramsey County and the City of Saint Paul are coming together to make this monumental investment in deeply affordable housing.”
“The scale of our housing crisis has roots in decades of federal disinvestment. We must seize the historic opportunity of the American Rescue Plan to correct this deep inequity and secure lasting stability for all who call Saint Paul home,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali. “I am wholeheartedly supportive of the City of Saint Paul’s newly created 30% AMI Fund to create deeply affordable new homes of all kinds in partnership with Ramsey County, with deep thanks to our congressional representatives. I look forward to helping lead this initiative forward as a Councilmember.”
"I'm extremely proud about the $74 million dollars we are allocating into deeply affordable housing. It's a critical investment directly serving working class families, families of color, seniors, young people, and many more community members experiencing the harshest levels of income disparity amidst this housing crisis and pandemic we live in. We must continue putting our most marginalized communities at the center of our decision-making," said Ward 6 Councilmember Nelsie Yang.
“Finally – thanks to the American Rescue Plan – Saint Paul and Ramsey County are able to partner to fulfill our commitment to expanding high quality housing for minimum wage workers and their families who have been priced out of our housing market. These are the same people – the essential workers – who have kept our city and county going during the worst of the COVID crisis,” said Ward 7 Councilmember Jane Prince.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR THIS HISTORIC INVESTMENT
“This commitment to deeply affordable housing could not come at a more critical time,” said Michael Goar, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. “Despite our collective best efforts, homelessness continues to rise while rents are increasing, and affordable housing options are decreasing. We at Catholic Charities experience this every day, and the pandemic has only made a great challenge worse. It will take many years to recover, so we must take bold actions now. Investments like these will help the people we serve and other families in need secure and keep safe, stable homes to live in and to thrive.”
“I commend Mayor Carter for choosing to invest in deeply affordable housing,” said Model Cities CEO Kizzy Downie. “These investments are critical in preserving long-term affordability and stability for families living in Saint Paul.”
“This investment in deeply, truly affordable rental housing will go far towards closing that gap and providing - caring - for all residents,” said Jewish Community Action Executive Director Carin Mrotz. “Jewish Community Action believes that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to live, and by making this investment in deeply, truly affordable rental housing, Saint Paul and Ramsey County are demonstrating a commitment to this value. They are leading the way by working to close the existing gap and build for a more just future. We look forward to working with them and our community partners as this investment bears fruit for the residents of Saint Paul and Ramsey County.”
“Everyone, regardless of our race, zip code or income deserves to have safe, affordable, and dignified housing,” said ISAIAH Leader Arline Datu. “We are grateful for our elected leaders’ decision to use $74 million of the ARPA resources to stage a breakthrough towards securing housing for the families who need this support the most.”
“Numbers don’t lie. The hard truth is 50% of our city’s homeless population is Black, while making up only 10% of the population,” said Frogtown Neighborhood Association Board President Cossandra Lloyd. “The city has finally heard the pleas of her people, desperate for housing at a level that doesn’t require families to spend 90% of their income on rent. Frogtown Neighborhood Association applauds city leaders as they commit to spending a significant portion of their federal relief dollars on housing at 30% of median income. In other words, on housing that will truly benefit the most economically vulnerable families in our community.”