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Mayor’s memo: HRA considers entire housing continuum in strategic plan

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Published July 11, 2021
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Fenley apartments
The Fenley Apartments, 8051 33rd Avenue South, has 402 units overall with 40 affordable units.

By Mayor Tim Busse

The Housing and Redevelopment Authority board recently approved Bloomington HRA’s three-year strategic plan and 2021 work plan. Bloomington HRA’s 2021 work plan addresses the entire housing continuum, including new development, the opportunity housing ordinance, the affordable housing trust fund and homelessness.

This past year has led to an increased awareness of the unsheltered population in Bloomington and their needs. It has also jump-started conversations about how to build housing capacity and other measures the City could take to help with homelessness and housing insecurities.

The City has been a leader in the area of affordable housing in recent years. Our opportunity housing ordinance and affordable housing trust fund are a few important parts of the City’s plan to address homelessness and housing security. As an example, the City of Bloomington acted quickly to create the affordable housing trust fund in 2019 and worked with a bank to fund it. This unprecedented move preserved housing for 306 households at the time. 

This is important and impactful work for residents. There is still more to be done to address issues related to housing, health and wellness, including affordable and market-rate development, deeper affordability resources in the affordable housing trust fund and working with people who are experiencing homelessness. 

People who live and work here generally have pride in Bloomington, and rightfully so. But we must acknowledge that you can have very different experiences of the city depending on your identity—race, religion, age, etc.—and whether you are housed or unhoused. 

Right now, Bloomington doesn’t have shelters for those experiencing homelessness. Bloomington is an urban city. It makes sense for the city to provide resources for those who are unhoused similar to how other urban areas do this in Minnesota. 

Bloomington HRA’s strategic three-year plan recognizes that we must address homelessness in the city proactively and be open to innovative solutions. This work aligns with the City’s strategic priorities of engagement and transparency, focused renewal and equity and inclusion. 

It’s Bloomington HRA’s job to work along the whole housing continuum. The 2021 work plan and three-year strategic plan set the stage for progress.

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