Construction begins on Conifer Estates
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Conifer Estates low-income housing development took place Thursday morning and construction is now underway.
“The roads are under construction right now,” said Community Development Director Tim Flathers.
Construction of Conifer Avenue, a new street that was needed in order to access the housing site, began last fall. The building complex will be located in the vicinity of 15th Street Northwest and U.S. Highway 2.
The idea for the supportive and transitional housing project was created in early 2007 by the Headwaters Housing Development Corporation, but progress had been delayed because of planning and finance issues.
At the end of May financing was finalized and now construction is under way.
“Just a couple of weeks and all of the underground work should be done,” Flathers said. “Right after the Fourth of July we should start construction on the buildings themselves.”
The Conifer Estates project is a response to the large need for affordable rental housing for homeless families in the area, Flathers said, with a majority of the financing for the project being provided by the Minnesota Housing and Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.
The Bi-county Community Action Program will provide services to the tenants, such as education, transportation and employment assistance, budgeting and financial literacy, goal setting, and self-sufficiency counseling.
While the majority of the 20 housing units will be meant for long-term housing, a few units will be used strictly for transitional housing with a maximum occupancy of two years for tenants.
The rental costs of inhabiting one of the new units will be even with market prices and will be paid with a percentage of the tenant’s income along with subsidies, Flathers said.
“We want people to have a sense of dignity and ownership,” Flathers added.
The entire building project is expected to be completed by March of 2012, with landscaping projects left to be finished. Tenants are scheduled to be selected in March.
“The estates should be completely occupied by the first of July, 2012,” said Flathers.
Tenants will be chosen based on their applications to be reviewed by a selection committee consisting of members from DW Jones Property Management, the Red Lake and Leech Lake Housing Authorities, the HHDC and Bi-county CAP.
Applicants who meet the income and homelessness criterion will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis.