Columbia Heights

Type of Community (Metropolitan Council Designation):
Developed
1995 Population:
18,681
2005 Population:
18,261
2020 Forecast Population:
21,400
Progress Towards LUPA & LCA Affordable Housing Goals*, 2011-2020

New Units Produced (2011)

4

LUPA Goal

231

LCA Goal

150

% Progress Towards LCA Goal

2.7%
Source: Metropolitan Council.

*Although new affordable housing goals under LUPA (Comp Plan) and LCA (Livable Communities eligibility) cover the same time period for the same kind of units, the Met Council established generally different goals for cities. For most cities, the LCA goal is set at 65% of the LUPA goal. Some larger cities or those with access to more resource have LCA goals closer to or equal to LUPA goals. Unlike pre-2010 goals, the 2011-2020 goals do not create separate sub-goals for rental and ownership housing units. More information.
Progress Toward LCA Affordable Housing Goals Through 2010
 
Owner
Rental
Total

New Units Produced

104
43
147

2010 LCA Goals

170
0
170

% Progress Towards 2010 Goals

61.2%
n/a
86.5%
Source: Metropolitan Council.

Metropolitan Council Housing Performance Score
Out of 100 (100 = highest)

2012: 69
2011: 71

2010 Housing Performance Scores (PDF - 45 KB)
All Metro Communities

2009 Housing Performance Scores (PDF - 27 KB)
All Metro Communities

2008 Housing Performance Scores (PDF - 138 KB)
All Metro Communities

Housing Affordability in 2000
Affordable Units Available
Owner
Rental
Total

Units affordable at 50% or less of Regional Family Median Income

2,333
1,792
4,125

Total Housing Units

5,711
2,270
7,981

% Affordable

40.9%
78.9%
51.7%
Low Income Households In Need
Owner
Rental
Total

Households at 50% or less of Regional Median Family Income with Housing Problems

532
728
1,260

Total Households at 50% or less of Regional Family Median Income

1,195
1,170
2,365

% with Problems

44.5%
62.2%
53.3%
Source: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Consolidated Plan/CHAS, 2000.

Note: The median family income for the Twin Cities was $65,800 in 2000 (or $32,900 at 50% of median).

Housing affordability numbers are adjusted by family size. Housing affordability matches the number of persons in a family to units with different numbers of bedrooms (e.g. a 4-person family is matched to 2 bedroom units). Income limits to affordable housing costs are also adjusted higher for larger families (greater than 4 people) and lower for smaller families (less than 4 people).

Housing problems are defined as household cost burden greater than 30% of income and/or overcrowding (more than 1 person per room) and/or without complete kitchen and plumbing facilities.

An interview was conducted with an official from Columbia Heights's planning or community development department in Spring of 2006, shortly after the Metropolitan Council's calculations for affordable housing need numbers were made public. A summary of key issues addressed in the interview is below:

According to the Met Council's recent report on "Determining Affordable Housing Need in the Twin Cites," Columbia Heights's affordable housing need number is 231 units for 2010-2020. Our source felt that these goals were high and not feasible. Our source identified the following problems and obstacles to meeting these goals: loss of eminent domain authority. The new affordable housing goals do not make a distinction between affordable rental and affordable for-sale housing, and our source felt that more for-sale housing would result. Our source felt that the new goals are similar to Columbia Heights's LCA goals. Columbia Heights plans to use the need number established in the Met Council's report as the affordable housing target in its comprehensive plan update.

Actions

Columbia Heights does not keep a database tracking the supply of low- and moderate-income housing. It has used the following programs to develop and facilitate the development of affordable housing: TIF, allowing higher densities for affordable units, and working with HUD. We also asked our source about Columbia Heights's use of some specific policies and programs. The results are summarized below:

Tools

Have Used?
Effectiveness
Will Use

PUD with smaller lots or density bonus

A Few Times
Effective
 

Zoning variances for low-mod housing

Often
Effective
 

Density bonuses

A Few Times
Effective
 

Expedited zoning & approval for low-mod

Often
 
 

Adjusted fees for low-mod housing

A Few Times
Effective
 

Adjusted lot sizes for low-mod housing

A Few Times
Very Effective
 

Allow accessory apartments

No
 
No

Set asides for low-moderate housing (i.e., inclusionary zoning)

No
 
No

Low Income Housing Tax Credits

No
 
Yes

Local tax abatement for low-mod housing

No
 
No

Incentives for new construction technologies

No
 
No

Manufactured homes

No
 
No

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

A Few Times
Effective
 

Mortgage Revenue bonds

No
 
No

Columbia Heights has not solicited proposals from the local HRA or other developers for building low- and moderate-income housing. It has acted as a proposer or developer of low- and moderate-income housing. Our source indicated that Columbia Heights has transit-oriented development opportunities, which make a positive difference in its ability to produce more affordable housing. Our source felt that with additional funding, Columbia Heights could accomplish its affordable housing goals.

Obstacles and Challenges

Our source did not identify any specific aspects of zoning ordinances, permitting processes, or other requirements that discourage or prevent adding to the supply of low-and moderate income housing. We also asked our source about some specific local practices and if they limit the development of low- and moderate-income housing. The results are summarized below:

Challenge Name

Assessment

Lot size requirements

Does Not Limit Low-Moderate Housing

Restricted amount of land zoned for multi-family housing

Does Not Limit Low-Moderate Housing

Local requirements for building materials

Does Not Limit Low-Moderate Housing

Subdivision regulations requiring high quality materials or wide street paving

Limits Low-Moderate Housing Somewhat

Permitting processes and fees

Does Not Limit Low-Moderate Housing

Local limits on the use of manufactured housing (e.g., mobile homes)

Limits Low-Moderate Housing Very Much

Building codes hat require updated code enforcement with any rehabilitation

Limits Low-Moderate Housing Somewhat

Prohibition on accessory apartment units

Limits Low-Moderate Housing Somewhat

Our source reported that Columbia Heights does not have any undeveloped land that is zoned residential and allows ten or more units per acre. Our source felt that in order to meet its affordable housing goals, Columbia Heights needs funding, land, and political will.

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Survey Summary Page
Learn more about the Survey and the cities involved.
What is the difference between current and future metro area affordable housing goals?
Explanation of the differences between the current affordable housing goals for cities (for 1995-2010) based on the Livable Communities Act, and the goals for the coming decade of 2011-2020.
PDF - 10 KB
Met Council LCA Progress Report
Source for City Snapshot information related to LCA Affordable Housing Goals.
PDF - 1.7 MB
HUD/CHAS Dataset
For a detailed analysis by HUD of housing needs in this community, follow this link. Then, select Minnesota and Submit. You then have the choice of viewing data for "all households" or for various racial/ethnic groups. Make the selection and Submit. Select either "County" or "Census Place" and Submit.
City Data
More information is available at Dataplace.org.
City Website
Visit the city's website to identify the key city staff and how to contact them.

Housing Justice Center Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Institute on Race & Poverty The McKnight Foundation
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