MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was in town today to talk about the future of affordable housing in Minneapolis.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro says the country is experiencing an affordable housing crisis. He was part of a public forum designed to address the issue in the Twin Cities.

They came from all areas of the Twin Cities, people from different communities bound together by the same issue: A lack of affordable housing.

“Let me talk about affirmatively furthering fair housing,” Congressman Keith Ellison said at the conference.

Ellison moderated the panel of experts who took questions from an audience looking for relief in a tight housing market.

“We believe that housing is a power platform to spark great opportunities in people’s lives and help them achieve the American dream,” Castro said.

Secretary Castro says having affordable, stable housing enhances prosperity across the city. He says investment in affordable housing should take place in the suburbs as well as older, distressed neighborhoods.

“What we see out there is an affordable housing crisis, particularly in the rental market in cities big and small, and we don’t have the resources necessary to fill that gap,” Castro said.

Secretary Castro says people need to be creative at every level to fill that gap. He credits Mayflower Church and Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaboration for thinking outside the box to build Creekside Commons — a local affordable housing complex.

“Two months ago we had 750 applicants for 47 units of affordable housing,” the site’s architect Jamil Ford said.

Architect Jamil Ford helped design the Commons on Penn in north Minneapolis with Former LA Laker Devean George. He agrees with Castro.

Ford says it will take a desire to create change to move Minneapolis out of this affordable housing crisis.

“We definitely need to strive and push for more opportunity that goes beyond policy,” he said.

Secretary Castro says the faith community, nonprofits, and public and private entities need to work together to create affordable housing. He said he’ll keep working with cities to provide access to greater opportunities for families.

Reg Chapman

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