To the Editor:
The recent request of Union Congregational Church to rezone their property and sell it to PPL for concentrated affordable housing should be scrutinized very carefully by our leaders and the entire community.
As a long-term resident, I have had the opportunity to see the positive effects of the redevelopment/revitalization strategy that has occurred in St. Louis Park. There was a time where the long-term stability of our community was in question due to poor planning and process. Prior mayors and city leaders championed an interactive process and visualized that the successful way to provide affordable housing throughout the community was to work it in as a component of market-rate housing. This was a solid and now proven strategy that has assured inclusion of socio-economic diversity while not creating the issues that the community had dealt with in the past, and is still dealing with in some areas, in regard to clusters of lower-income housing.
It is noteworthy that the city had to proactively get involved in managing some of the concentrated lower-income housing to protect the quality-of-life issues for both residents and the larger community. The practice of working in affordable housing to market-rate developments has provided stability for the residents of the complexes and also been healthy for the overall community – a successful formula for all stakeholders. Clustered affordable housing intensifies racial and economic segregation, and there are fewer neighbors nearby who can help folks when needed. This seems contrary to what St. Louis Park stands for and why integration into market-rate housing is prudent. It will be disheartening to see city leaders embrace such a project due to a church’s self-inflicted financial problems. Changing existing zoning, providing tax-increment financing dollars for a project that has a risky developer and the potential for many negative consequences does not seem prudent, for the benefit of the church. The proven strategy of spreading affordable housing throughout the entire community and region, within new market-rate developments, is imperative for the long-term health of the community.
St. Louis Park