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What is Servants’ Quarter ‘Workforce Housing’?

‘Workforce Housing’ is the new code for housing the working poor a.k.a. mid- to low-income earners. The idea originated in Aspen, Colorado when the wealthy priced the locals out of the community and then realized that they didn’t have nurses living close enough to bandage their tennis elbows and plumbers to fix their hot tubs. So they created a secondary and separate area for ‘local worker’ housing to support their lifestyle without having to have them as neighbors – that’s ‘Workforce Housing.’

Richfield Becomes the Servants’ Quarters ‘Workforce Housing’ for Edina

Low-wage jobs are another part of the Metropolitan Council’s formula for allocating affordable housing. Edina has low-wage jobs and lots of them. The map below was created using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, which shows where the low-wage jobs actually are – and not many are in Richfield. Both Edina and the area round the Mall of America are the hot spots for those jobs and yet, both are virtual ghost towns when it comes to low-income housing.

But Affordable Housing is a Good Thing Isn’t It?

Who among us has not been touched personally and recently by plummeting real estate values, the disappearance of retirement funds, of uncertain employment prospects or worse, lay-offs and other economic hardships?

Everyone understands the need for affordable housing. And each community doing its fair share is important.

Good planning is critical. Medium-density, mixed-income developments that combine affordable housing with market rate housing works very well.

A high-density, 100% low-income housing development like Pillsbury Commons is not good planning and is not in the best interest of the neighborhood OR the prospective tenants.

Why High-density, 100% Low-income Housing Projects are a Bad Idea

  • High-density, 100% low-income housing stigmatizes the residents and prevents integration into the neighborhood.
  • High-density, 100% low-income housing creates a burden of providing extra community services by the host community.
  • High-density, 100% low-income housing creates economic stress on the business community.
  • High-density, 100% low-income housing does not benefit the poor, it does not benefit the middle-class – it benefits the only the wealthy.

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The Pillsbury Commons as proposed.