Shoreview adopts fair housing policy

The Shoreview City Council unanimously approved adoption of a fair housing policy during its Nov. 19 meeting.

The policy states the city’s commitment “to ensure that fair and equal housing opportunities are granted to all persons in all housing opportunities and development activities funded by the city regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and status with regard to public assistances, familial status, national origin, or disability.”

City Planner Kathleen Castle explained at the meeting that the policy’s adoption happened at the urging of the Metropolitan Council, which is requiring cities to adopt such policies in order to continue receiving Livable Communities Act grants. 

Castle said the city has contributed LCA grant money to a number of recent housing developments, including The Shores Senior Apartments and Lakeview Terrace Apartments.

Beyond the financial incentives, the policy, according to council members, should be helpful in informing how the city supports housing in the future.

“We feel strongly, going forward, that this will only aid us with our housing stock,” said council member Emy Johnson, president of the city’s Economic Development Authority, which, according to her, “is all about housing and looking at our housing stock.”

 

What it does

Castle said the policy outlines a number of things the city will do externally regarding fair housing, including what actions it will take regarding fair housing complaints and how it will make information on the subject available to the people who need it, including landlords and those who might need a translator.

The policy’s affect might be more noticeable within City Hall. Castle said it will be kept in mind when it comes to the city’s home loan programs, financial assistance for development and when city officials look at applications for development. The city will also take a hard look at its existing housing.

“Is our housing stock diversified? Is it providing housing for all ages and income groups? Are there any regulations in our development code that may be preventing affordable housing from taking place in our community?” said Castle of what the city will be looking to answer.

Though the fair housing policy was modeled off a sample document provided by the Met Council, the Economic Development Authority discussed it over three months, and city staffers were confident the Met Council would accept it.

Johnson termed the EDA’s talks as a “rich dialogue” aimed to “really determine if we’re meeting what our [housing] goals are today.”

Mayor Sandy Martin commented that the fair housing policy dovetails well with feedback received from residents through the city’s semi-annual community survey, the results of which were presented at the same meeting.

Though nearly 30 percent of survey respondents said “nothing” when asked for the most serious issue facing Shoreview, 4 percent said affordable housing, a response rate that was similar to answers regarding other specific issues. 

For questions that asked residents about the abundance or lack of various amenities, 43 percent of respondents said there were too few affordable rental units in the city, while 49 percent of respondents said there wasn’t enough affordable housing, in general.

“I think that our residents are really kind of confirming what the EDA has directed in this whole thing,” Martin said.

 

—Mike Munzenrider

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