Major Oak Court project on the verge of receiving state funding

    A Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) request for funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for a major plumbing-related project at Oak Court on Sargent Street in Sampson’s Addition - the bathrooms and much of the plumbing infrastructure in the almost-50 year old building is original - has been “selected” for further processing.

    While the actual wording of the letter received by CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth and his staff might not sound incredibly encouraging, receiving the letter does amount to CHEDA’s request for $1.267 million in bonds/funding for the project amounts to clearing a major hurdle.

    “It’s a great piece of news for us,” Hoiseth said at Tuesday’s CHEDA Board of Directors meeting, held at the house located at 375 Crescent Avenue that Craig Larson is renovating with the help of a short-term loan through CHEDA’s Housing Rehab Program.

    Hoiseth deflected much of the credit to his staff. He noted that one of the possible reasons that CHEDA’s application “rose to the top” was that it was the first ever sent to Minnesota Housing’s Publicly Owned Housing Program (POHP) that included a video to further lay out the need for the project and detail what it would consist of.

    The next step involves a meeting with Minnesota Housing POHP officials on May 24, Hoiseth said. If things continue to progress and the necessary hurdles are cleared, work would commence later this year, he added.

Major need

    The project addresses essentially all of the plumbing in the apartment building that was constructed in 1969-70, Hoiseth explained. In recent years, costly maintenance issues have risen significantly, he noted, and it’s becoming more of a headache for staff and a major drag for tenants. Most of the problems have been in the water supply lines, he said, but added that there have been “failures” in wastewater piping as well.

    The plan would be to displace four units at a time, since the four-level building is aligned in columns, Hoiseth explained. Work would be done in every bathroom and kitchen in the building and would involve a lot of gutting, and the installation of more efficient toilets, new showers, drains, etc. Hoiseth said the resulting savings on water/utility bills will be significant. Vanities, floor coverings and related accessories will also be replaced.

State dollars

    So what’s making the funding possible?

    The 2017 Minnesota Legislature appropriated $10 million in State General Obligation (GO )bond proceeds to Minnesota Housing for the rehabilitation of public housing, and an additional $2.7 million is available due to recaptured cost savings, as well as the return of $1.1 million from a cancelled POHP loan commitment.

    “Public Housing” means housing for low-income persons and households that are financed by the federal government and owned and operated by a city or county public entity, such as a Housing and Redevelopment Authority, like CHEDA in Crookston.

    Thirty different Housing and Redevelopment Authorities (HRAs) applied for funding under the 2017 POHP Request for Proposals (RFP) and submitted funding requests for 38 developments. Six funding requests were received from the metro area and 32 were received from greater Minnesota. The 2017 POHP RFP received requests in excess of $19.2 million.