Edina, the Met Council and the Affordable Housing Shell Game

The Set-Up

Using a formula that only Enron could appreciate, the Metropolitan Council determines the amount of affordable housing a community should plan for. Funny thing is, the formula penalizes responsible communities for developing much needed transportation and rewards communities that practice exclusionary zoning.

Using this formula they determined that Richfield should build 757 units of owner-occupied affordable housing (they made this determination before the housing bubble burst).

To-date, Richfield has produced 262 units or 34.6% of the goal.

When it comes to rental units, NO affordable rental units were, or are, required of Richfield because 55% of existing rental units are already considered affordable – one of the highest percentages in the Metro area.

In spite of the fact that none were required Richfield produced 43 units of affordable rental housing.

Edina Wins “Hardest Tryer Award” But Still Produces No ‘Workforce Housing’

During that same time period, the Met Council’s affordable housing goals for Edina were a modest 170 units of owner-occupied affordable housing.

Edina produced 3 units achieving 1.8% of the goal.

For rental, the goal set for Edina was 31 units.

Edina produced 8 units obtaining 25.8% of a very modest goal.

Edina officials say they are open to affordable housing and state so in their Comprehensive Plan but, clearly, there’s a difference between what they say and what they do.


In his book “Metropolitics,” Myron Orfield, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Institute on Race & Poverty at the University of Minnesota, points out that Edina has been one of eight communities in the Twin Cities area practicing Exclusionary Zoning.

The Metropolitan Council’s own 2006 Report to the Minnesota Legislature on Affordable and Lifecycle Housing stated that within the City of Edina ZERO affordable rental units were created between 1996 to 2005.


Like T-Ball, the Metropolitan Council’s affordable housing program gives trophies for participation rather than results.

It gets worse…

But wait, it gets even worse! Unlike the pre-2010 goals, the new 2011-2020 goals do not distinguish between rental and ownership housing units. What does this mean? Where Richfield was not required to build rental, the 497 affordable housing units goal set by the Livable Communities Act for 2011-2020  can be built as rental, allowing Edina to continue to ignore its meager affordable housing goals (138 units for 2011-2020) but stay secure in the knowledge that someone else (Richfield) will provide housing and public services for its low wage workers.

Because Richfiled already had a 55% affordable housing market they were not required to build new rentals targeting low-income families and individuals. Now they have to build low-income rentals.

The Pillsbury Commons as proposed.