Affordable housing help in Alexandria is on the way.

At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council agreed to use tax increment financing money to enable the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority to purchase 2.76 acres of land on Nokomis Street, west of the Soo Line Railroad, to build 24 townhomes.

They will be rented by low to moderate-income families. All of the units will have rent or income restrictions.

"I think this is awesome," said Mayor Bobbie Osterberg. "I am so glad to see us put this money into affordable housing, which is so desperately needed."

The council and mayor, acting as the city's Economic Development Authority, approved the financing plan on a 6-0 vote. (The mayor is allowed to vote on EDA matters.)

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The townhomes will be 1,040-square-feet per unit. They’ll be built on the east side of Nokomis, south of the Douglas County Historical Society, across from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is selling the property.

The funds to buy the land, up to $131,000, will come from TIF District 26, which was created in 2003 to construct owner-occupied, single-family homes for low and moderate income families in a housing project called “The Trails.”

The HRA plans to close on the property in about 60 days. The HRA will serve as the developer for the project, although that could change later on, according to HRA Director Jeff Hess.

Nicole Fernholz, director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, noted that housing TIF districts have a unique feature – the increment generated can be used for housing projects anywhere in the city as long as they include some lower income households.

Currently, there is about $644,930 available in TIF District No. 26 to finance affordable housing projects.

The city’s Economic Development Authority has the authority to make the grant to the Alexandria HRA as long as the revenues from the TIF districts are used to assist low- and moderate-income families with the cost of housing, Fernholz added.