MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty suggests in lean budget years that the state can help ensure it has enough affordable housing by providing tax credits for developers, being involved in public-private partnerships and approving bonding bills.
Pawlenty also told about 1,500 people attending an affordable housing convention in Minneapolis Friday that repairing housing is cheaper than building new homes.
"Affordable housing is a major issue in Minnesota," Pawlenty said. "We are not going to ignore it."
Considering the $3 billion-plus budget deficit Minnesota faces, Pawlenty said, "We may not make as much progress as fast as you would like, but ... we will continue to make progress."
"This is a very complex issue," Pawlenty said. "It is not something that lends itself very well to one simple solution or a couple of quick sound bites."
Housing is considered affordable if a family spends no more than 30 percent of its income on it.
As many as one in five Minnesota households doesn't have housing that is affordable, said Donald McFarland, an organizer for HousingMinnesota, a sponsor of the convention.
Without efforts to reduce housing costs, $850 million in public and charitable investment in "gap" financing for low-income renters will be needed each year to achieve the "homes for all" 2012 goal.
"Not all the answers to affordable housing require more money," said McFarland, who noted that some would need a change in law.
With his election as governor, Pawlenty said, affordable housing has moved from a back-burner issue at the Capitol to the front line.
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