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8/10/2018 11:05:00 AM
Bloomington mayor announces goal of $6 million in affordable housing investments by 2019

Kurt Christian, Herald-Times

City officials are betting they can leverage around $6 million in investments between now and 2019 to continue patching Bloomington’s affordable housing gaps.

Mayor John Hamilton and other city officials hosted a virtual town hall Thursday to take inventory of the city’s past affordable housing efforts and announce new goals for creating a healthier housing stock.

Hamilton said about 15 percent of the 2,800 bedrooms approved in Bloomington over the past two years have been affordable, but Bloomington’s average population growth of about 1,000 people per year continues to eat away at the city’s housing supply while driving up costs. 

Definitions of “affordable housing” vary, but the term essentially refers to units that people with incomes below certain income levels can afford.

By re-creating previous fundraising methods and engaging in new partnerships, the city hopes to create an appropriate balance within expanding housing options.

“Our community is the most expensive community in the state for rental and ownership of housing,” Hamilton said. “We know there are many, many people in Bloomington who are spending way more of their income on housing than they should be. It’s a huge issue.”

City officials believe they’ll be able to raise $1.5 million of that $6 million through the Housing Development Fund. Since the fund’s creation in 2016, they’ve raised that much money before by asking developers who forgo affordable housing in their projects to give money in lieu of creating beds for lower-income tenants on site.

The city then combined the more than $1 million in donations it received with about $400,000 in leftover funds from an idle account to: redeem a vacant property, foster a downtown collaborative living home, subsidize the creation of over 100 affordable units and more. Even if the city sees another $1.5 million infusion into that account, Hamilton will need the city council’s approval to use that money for similar projects.

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