Demographic changes must be accompanied by housing choice. “We’re seeing a lot of change in terms of the types of housing individuals are choosing, and so historically we’ve been very much focused on the traditional detached single family owner occupied, and we’re seeing a lot more…multi-family, more rental and a lot of different housing choices,” says Tim Gladhill, Director of Community Development. The City has embraced a new type of single family development, such as Riverstone Villas, with smaller lots sizes (⅛ acre versus the traditional ¼ acre) and amenities, including easy access to open space, parks, and trails as well as access to Hwy 10, which connects to downtown Minneapolis. Benefiting from association maintenance, this development supports aging-in-place.
Creating Housing Choice
Seasons Townhomes is a 50-unit, $8.9 million development built with support from the Minnesota Equity Fund, offering rental space for low-income and formerly homeless families and individuals. UnitedHealth was the first and largest investor in the fund seeing the intrinsic relationship between stable housing and health, which speaks to the relationships that have to form for change and innovation to happen. The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund was formed in 1996 by the McKnight and Blandin foundations to address an urgent need for decent affordable housing in Minnesota. In response to the opportunity to test other health-supported housing options, like micro-units, Tim Gladhill, Director of Community Development, reflects that, “Housing policies and housing choices are definitely changing at a rapid pace [in Minnesota] and I will acknowledge whatever solution we have…our zoning laws haven’t quite caught up with that yet.”
The City of Ramsey faces such a high demand for affordable housing that new units are typically leased before construction is complete. The median property value in Ramsey is around $210,200 — the Minnesota average is $191,500. One example is Sunwood Village, which offers 1-3 bedroom apartments and amenities such as a shared community space. “We need an opportunity for all of our [residents] to have a housing choice in Ramsey without having to leave Ramsey,” reflects Tim Gladhill, Director of Community Development. “We saw a lot of our younger population have to choose housing elsewhere, because they couldn’t afford housing.” The Center for Housing Policy summarizes the impacts of affordable housing on health as alleviating crowding, making more resources available to pay for health care and purchase healthy foods, improving mental health of residents, and serving the most vulnerable populations.