New housing option proposed for poor in AlexandriaA new project in Alexandria would help low-income families find housing.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
A new project in Alexandria would help low-income families find housing.
Deer Ridge Townhomes is a joint effort proposed by the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and a developer, D.W. Jones Inc.
It would provide 24 affordable housing units east of the proposed site of a new high school and Knute Nelson’s new senior living campus, Grand Arbor. It would be built along a proposed new street, 45th Avenue East.
The Alexandria City Council approved a “resolution of support” for the project at its meeting Monday night. It wasn’t asked to commit any city funds to it.
HRA Director Jeff Hess noted that studies have shown that this type of housing is needed in Alexandria.
As if on cue, the next person on the council’s agenda was Jessica Boyer, director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties, who provided an update on the “housing conversation” meetings the Community Impact Coalition has been having to address homelessness.
Boyer noted that a point-in-time survey conducted on one day this past January revealed that there were 31 families in the area who were without a home that night, which included 43 adults and 61 children.
She added that a meeting earlier this month drew more than 40 people who were concerned about homelessness in the area, including the fact that 14 families are currently living in their vehicles.
“We want to create a plan to address this topic,” Boyer told the council. “People need to know that homelessness is happening here – not just in the Twin Cities.”
Boyer added that the Alexandria HRA has a waiting list of people who are wanting to live at Viking Towers, which is targeted for the elderly and disabled.
If the demand is there, it could trigger a “phase two” for Deer Ridge Townhomes, which could possibly provide another 24 units of housing, Hess said.
The council also agreed to support the HRA and D.W. Jones’ grant application to receive $210,068 in gap financing from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
If approved, the city would act as the fiscal agent for the grant. The funds would come to the city in the form of a grant and pass through to the project as a loan from the city.
After 30 years, the HRA would pay the loan back at typically 0 percent interest and the money could be loaned out again to another project.
Housing issues weren’t the only items on the council’s plate Monday night. See Friday’s Echo Press for more council news.