Debunking myths of affordable housing: “Homes for All” airs on TPT Sunday

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Affordable housing in Minnesota still is getting a bad rap, but this might change with a new public television documentary airing on Sunday: Homes for All.

Evidence of continuing NIMBY challenges facing families needing housing surfaced in the community outreach process the state went through in preparation of the 2012-16 Consolidated Plan. This is a document that is required to be completed every five years in order to receive various federal housing resources.

For the Plan, state agency staff completed extensive interviews with community leaders to determine the need for housing as well as barriers to creating housing affordable to people with incomes too low to be served by the private market.

Shortage of resources to cover the gap between what people can pay and the cost of housing ranked as the number one barrier. But barriers related to social perception are still prevalent.

One individual surveyed said in his community there was a prevailing sentiment that by creating housing for homeless individuals, homeless people would move into the community.

Another survey responder identified community ignorance of the struggles many families face in surviving on low incomes, particularly when housing costs are increasing faster than incomes as they have for renters over the past decade.

Many participants in the state survey said that public education on challenges faced by low income people would be beneficial and, in particular, information about the quality of affordable housing now being produced in Minnesota.

Many people have a very limited understanding of affordable housing and form opinions, pro or con, from a narrow base of experience. And for older Minnesotans that understanding was based on outdated images of massive, crime ridden, poorly-funded public housing projects here and elsewhere.

To bring this understanding of affordable housing up to date, TPT Minnesota has produced a one-hour documentary, titled Homes for All. The documentary offers an insider’s view of affordable housing in Minnesota and the people and communities that rely on it. The documentary profiles residents, developers and community members in three Twin Cities affordable housing developments.

Homes for All is being shown on TPT’s Minnesota and Life channels. After the show premiers February 19 it will be available “on demand” at tpt.org.

I encourage people to bring an open mind to the topic affordable housing and watch the TPT program. I think that you’ll find Minnesota’s affordable housing to be architecturally pleasing, durable and well run. And, I believe that you will find the residents of affordable housing the good neighbors we want in Minnesota.

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