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Program Uses Controversial Method to Boost Funding for Scarce Public Housing

To help finance the Elliot Twins and future renovation projects, the housing authority will change how it receives much of its federal funding.

By Martin Moylan

The Elliot Twins high-rise apartments, not far from U.S. Bank Stadium, are on track for $22 million rehab, starting next year. The 12-story buildings are among the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority’s oldest properties, built back when John F. Kennedy was president.

To help finance the Elliot Twins and future renovation projects, the housing authority will change how it receives much of its federal funding, switching to a program expected to provide a more stable flow of money. The move also allows the organization to raise money from investors and other private-sector sources to fund building repairs and renovations.

Public housing serves the poorest of the poor, including many households making less than $15,000 a year. Virtually no new public housing has been built in decades and federal funding has been inconsistent, leaving many public housing authorities with huge backlogs of deferred maintenance.

The Minneapolis Housing Authority’s 6,000 homes and apartments currently need about $175 million in work.

Resident Jonathan Martin has lived in Elliot Twins since 2006. He likes the new kitchens and bathrooms and other planned improvements.

"This will be a nice place for residents to reside and look forward to coming home to," he said.

Resident Osman Omar also likes what is in the works. Among other things, the buildings will be joined by a first-floor community center.

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