Gov. Tim Walz’s plan to invest $276 million in affordable housing represents a bold move to make affordable housing and economic development priority.
He unveiled the plan last week as part of a larger public borrowing proposal that may top $2 billion.
His affordable housing plan covers projects in the metro area and the significant needs in outstate Minnesota. We hope that garners some Republican votes from those who represent rural areas and have long argued those areas are left behind when it comes to funding.
And affordable housing is becoming a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats have supported increases in affordable housing as recently as last year.
The Walz plan covers a variety of affordable housing needs, including those for Native American communities in the Twin Cities and workforce housing desperately needed in outstate to support workers who are in short supply.
The plan offers a good mix of $200 million in housing bonds that would be awarded to developers on a competitive basis, $60 million to rehabilitate public housing already in place and $15 million to upgrade veterans homes.
The Mankato region’s shortage of affordable housing has been well-documented by The Free Press, and strides have been made in recent years to develop almost 200 units of affordable housing.
And the city of Mankato has made affordable housing part of its strategic plan.
Republicans in the Legislature have opposed big DFL borrowing bills, saying they risk putting the state in a burdensome debt situation. Those fears are somewhat overblown and politically driven.
By some estimates from the office of Management and Budget, Minnesota could support a nearly $3 billion bonding bill. And the state maintains a Triple A credit rating, which was incidentally restored mostly by Democrats after the deficits and budget shifting of the era of Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Now is the year for Democrats and Republicans to come together to make a robust investment in affordable housing that will serve all Minnesotans, wherever they live.