Mankato has celebrated a number of new landmarks and significant structures in the last five years. including gleaming office towers downtown. The opening of a new affordable housing complex on the hilltop should also be considered a vital piece of Mankato’s progress.

Dublin Crossing, a project by CommonBond Properties at 920 Patriot Drive, opened recently providing 50 units of workforce housing. Rents are set at around $675 for one bedroom apartments and $830 for two bedroom units. They are designed to be affordable for a single person making about $16 per hour and a two-person household making about $22 per hour combined.

The $12 million project by all accounts appears to be a comfortable and well-designed complex with spacious apartments, a community room with a kitchen, ample playground space, parking and internet-ready computer room. It’s on a bus route and near medical facilities.

Seven of the units will go to people experiencing long-term homelessness and another five will go to people with disabilities. CommonBond will also provide support services including job assistance and health and wellness classes to residents who qualify.

The complex marks the first such affordable housing project in Mankato since 2012, although one other project will be completed next year. Two others had applied for state and federal funds. The Gateway West project near Cub Foods in West Mankato did not receive funds this year, but may next year. But a second CommonBond project, next to Dublin Crossing called Dublin Heights, was approved for $8.4 million in funding on Thursday.

These projects are examples of government, private businesses and nonprofits working together to pool their resources and make strong cases for the need for affordable housing in the region.

These projects, along with the Sibley Park apartments completed in 2012, will mark significant growth in the availability of affordable housing.

Taken together, Mankato has added 110 units in the last year and another 45 with Dublin Heights. Gateway also would provide about 40 units.

That will be a good pace to meet needs that a city housing study showed stood at 150 to 200 units every three years.

The projects have won favor in competitive state and federal competitions for tax credits because local governments have shared in the financing. Mankato, for example, provided $100,000 of its federal block grant money to the Dublin project while Blue Earth County kicked in $50,000. The city has also approved tax increment financing for affordable housing projects.

Providing affordable housing for people with lower incomes provides just as much economic development as some big commercial projects. The less workers have to spend on housing, the more they can spend on other goods and services.

The workforce housing efforts of Mankato and its partners are laudable and will be a big boost to developing a stable workforce. Stable housing leads to prosperity for workers and economic growth for a community.

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