MINNEAPOLIS – Low-income housing was front and center in a session at the University of Minnesota law school Monday afternoon. Professor Myron Orfield invited interested parties to discuss the situation and ramifications of "too much" affordable housing along the about-to-open Central Corridor "Green Line" light rail line.
The Green line is to begin service on June 14. Currently, light rail officials estimate there has been $1.7 billion in new developments, including thousands of new housing units, along the line running from downtown Minneapolis to downtown Saint Paul.
"In some areas," explained Orfield, "there are a majority of units already as affordable housing in many parts of Frogtown where much of it (new housing) is proposed. The schools are 100 percent poor and minority. There is poor private investment in those areas and many civil rights advocates feel that the area is saturated with affordable housing and that is not a good thing."
"I do think that it is important that as we look at expanding affordable housing, that we think about how we can make it as available in as many places as we can in the metropolitan area," said Joy Marsh Stephens, Representative of Isaiah, a statewide collaborative of faith groups interested in racial and economic equity.
There is a dilemma of insuring choices for low-income housing, while also creating easy access for low-income residents to transit systems like the Green Line. The idea is to give them convenient ways to get to jobs along the transit ways.
Some critics said there is a danger of creating de-facto segregation by concentrating low-income housing around the transit lines.
"I think there can be a danger of this," agreed Libby Starling, Met Council Manager of Regional Policy and Research. "The interest in the areas around transit ways is because transit increases the appeal of those areas. There is special attention needed to preserve housing affordability and a choice in those areas."
The Met Council is to propose a housing plan for the metro area in early Fall of 2014. The plan will be open to public comment.