Affordable housing sometimes has a bad reputation: The name often conjures crumbling public towers or far-away pre-fab units built by private developers.
But there’s another kind of affordable housing, built with tax credits and city loans, typified in a place like the A-Mill lofts. Set on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, the A-Mill lofts include a penthouse resident lounge, a fitness center, a yoga studio, free wi-fi, dishwashers, and studios for painting, pottery, dance, and music.
The A-Mill lofts sound like the type of opportunity that most poor families would dream of. But a new report suggests that the lofts are not accessible to most poor families. Though they were built with affordable-housing tax credits and city loans, they’re too expensive for most voucher holders to afford, the report finds. Instead, they go to mostly to white artists, who have incomes below the median for the area but above the average affordable-housing tenant.
This type of majority-white subsidized housing is not unique. According to the report, from the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota, about 6 percent of housing built using low-income tax credits in Minneapolis and St. Paul is built for artists. And those buildings don’t look at all like traditional affordable units. The artist housing is 82.4 percent white, and the average income of tenants is $29,890. Only about 3.3 percent of tenants receive rental assistance. All other housing built with low-income-housing tax credits in those two cities, by contrast, is 19.8 percent white, with an average income of $17,140, and 67 percent of tenants receive rental assistance.