Affordable Housing Needs
Housing, and affordable housing in particular, are critical issues in our metropolitan area. The number of available affordable housing units continues to dwindle over time, Federal funding for affordable housing has been limited for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated economic and housing stress for many low- and middle-income families. Read more.
The future need for affordable housing is great. As the Metropolitan Council’s Housing Policy Plan 2040 notes:
Affordable Housing Opportunities
The creation of new housing on 162 acres of Rice Creek Commons land is a once-in-generations opportunity because there is very little undeveloped land in Arden Hills. This opportunity enables us to use up-to-date best practices in the creation of affordable housing within our larger housing community. Read more.
Arden Hills, like other suburbs that grew after World War II, already has significant affordable housing. Applying Metropolitan Council standards, 40% of housing units were affordable in 2021, half for households making at least $60,000 a year. The City should continue to encourage maintenance of existing affordable housing. A variety of tools, including code enforcement, public service and street investments, parks, and home improvement loan programs, can help neighborhoods with affordable housing.
Affordable Housing Benefits
A mix of new housing will benefit those singles and families of all ages and backgrounds that want to live in our community. Affordable housing will fulfill our commitment to the Metropolitan Council to expand affordable housing units and will broaden opportunities for local hiring by our businesses and educational institutions. Read more.
Among the benefits of an Arden Hills commitment to affordable housing are the following:
Affordable Housing Myths - Crime and Property Values
Two persistent, but mistaken, beliefs suggest that affordable housing will increase neighborhood crime and decrease property values. Research findings, however, debunk these myths and support development recommendations that help ensure vibrant and safe neighborhoods for everyone. Read more.
Myth: Affordable housing will depress property values
The days of constructing large low-income housing projects are over. Cities are replacing older projects with housing that mixes incomes. New development does not concentrate low- and moderate-income families in buildings or neighborhoods that are racially or ethnically segregated.
Most studies that looked at the impact of newer affordable housing projects on property values found no negative effect and, sometimes, values grew.
A literature review for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (2010) concluded that projects managed by non-profit organizations often have positive impacts on property values. Projects managed by for-profit organizations also have positive impacts, but those benefits haven’t lasted as long. The impact, whether positive or negative, tends to be slight.
Rice Creek Commons offers an opportunity to start with a clean slate. There are no nearby neighborhoods, and Arden Hills can learn from successful local and national developments.
Only 3% of Arden Hills remains undeveloped outside Rice Creek Commons. It’s unlikely that adding a small number of new affordable housing units in those areas would depress property values nearby.
Myth: Affordable housing will bring increased crime
It’s difficult to find any statistically significant evidence that affordable housing contributes to increased crime.
Most studies indicate that adding affordable housing to poorer neighborhoods reduces crime, and there’s no increase in crime in wealthier neighborhoods or mixed-income developments.
The 2010 MN Housing Finance Agency report concluded that research on the effect of affordable housing on neighborhood crime is limited. The size of the housing project was the most important factor; large projects may have had the effect of increased crime, but smaller projects (up to 50 units each) typically did not.
Arden Hills Affordable Housing Myths
Our City Council maintains that Arden Hills has sufficient affordable housing, and the City lacks the ability or staff resources to encourage affordable housing. The experience of other cities and our own past history shows that Arden Hills could do much more to actively encourage development of affordable housing. Read more.
Rice Creek Commons Development History
Ramsey County / Arden Hills Impasse, 2019-2022
Ramsey County and Arden Hills signed an agreement to work jointly on the development of Rice Creek Commons. Since 2019, the two parties have been unable to agree on housing goals and financial commitments to the development. Read more.
Common Terms - Affordable Housing and Rice Creek Commons
Definitions are provided for terms often used when describing or discussing the Rice Creek Commons development and affordable housing. Read more.
Area Median Income (AMI)
Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR)
The Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) is a planning tool used by local governments. It helps them understand how different development scenarios could affect the community's environment. The State of Minnesota requires the AUAR for sites like Rice Creek Commons because of their size and complexity. Here are some of the areas covered by the AUAR:
Cover Types (for example, grassland, woodland, impervious/developed)
Geology, Soils, and Topography
Fish, Plant Communities, and Sensitive Ecological Resources
Download the completed AUAR for Rice Creek Commons here.
Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) / Joint Development Authority (JDA)
Rice Creek Commons
Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP)
2040 Comprehensive Plan
Facts and Figures
The following population and housing information is listed on the Metropolitan Council's web site. Population information uses 2020 US Census data. Housing values use 2020 and 2021 estimates. Learn more.