Coon Rapids HRA partners with Habitat for Humanity

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is partnering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on another housing project.


The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is partnering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on another housing project.
The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is partnering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on another housing project.

The HRA has approved a development agreement and funding for demolition of an existing house and construction of a new house at 9911 Larch St. N.W.

Last year, the HRA and Habitat for Humanity entered into a similar agreement for a project at 9901 Larch St. N.W., the lot next to this one.

According to Community Development Specialist Matt Brown, the house is in very poor condition and has been repeatedly cited for building and property maintenance violations.

Anoka County has acquired the property through its federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and donated it to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Brown stated in a report to the HRA.

“Habitat initially intended to rehab the house, but later determined that rehab would be too costly,” he wrote.

Instead, the existing house will be demolished and a new four-bedroom, two bathroom house will be constructed, Brown wrote.

According to Brown, Habitat for Humanity hopes to get started as quickly as possible and have the foundation in place before the end of the year.

But there will be an opportunity for the Coon Rapids Fire Department to conduct some training in the house before it is demolished.

Last fall, the fire department burned down the house next door (9901 Larch) for training purposes, but this time the training will involve interior damage only, said Fire Chief John Piper.

The fire department is partnering with the St. Paul Fire Department and KARE 11 television station to create a fire safety video, according to Piper.

The video will cover such things as cooking and electrical fires as well as smoke detectors, Piper said.

“It will be a good use of the property for us,” he said.

The house to be constructed on the property will have 1,514 square feet of living space and its design meets the HRA’s design criteria for scattered site lots, Brown wrote in his report to the HRA.

“Habitat will sell the home to a family earning less than 50 percent of the area median income that has completed homeownership classes, put 300 to 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ into the house and demonstrated an ability to pay Habitat’s zero percent mortgage,” he wrote.

The HRA action approving the development agreement Oct. 2 provides $13,000 to Habitat for Humanity to help with demolition costs.

Habitat for Humanity has received federal HOME affordable housing dollars through Anoka County to assist with house construction costs, Brown said.

Staff believes Habitat for Humanity’s proposal represents a good investment in the Woodcrest neighborhood because the proposed house is consistent in design to surrounding houses and includes high-quality exterior materials, he wrote.

The house will be built next year; the development agreement sets a Dec. 31, 2013 deadline, Brown said.

The house that Habitat for Humanity is building next door at 9901 Larch is nearing completion. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

That property had been donated to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity by Wells Fargo, after it had taken possession of the home, Brown said.

The HRA, through the scattered sites fund, agreed to pay $10,000 toward the demolition costs, he said.

That house, too, was in very poor condition and had been repeatedly cited by the city for building and property maintenance violations, Brown said.

It had also been declared a hazardous building by the Coon Rapids City Council in late 2010.

Another house in the same neighborhood, 9900 Norway St. N.W., has been acquired by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, again through Anoka County, which had purchased the property with NSP dollars, according to Brown.

Rather that demolishing the existing house, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is doing rehabilitation work with county-approved HOME funds, Brown said.

Councilmember Scott Schulte was not opposed to the development agreement with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity for the 9911 Larch St. N.W. property.

But he was concerned about the concentration of projects using scattered sites dollars in the same neighborhood, rather than being disbursed throughout the city, which was the purpose of the program, Schulte said.

That’s an issue for the HRA to determine in the future, he said.

But Councilmember Bruce Sanders said this sort of project was precisely the purpose of the scattered sites program.

“I can’t think of a better candidate than Habitat for Humanity,” he said.

Asked by Mayor Tim Howe if the new home would have a basement, Brown responded that it would be slab at grade like the original home because it is not feasible to construct a full basement due to soil conditions.

The Coon Rapids scattered sites acquisition program involves the HRA purchasing and demolishing blighted or substandard homes, in most cases foreclosed, and replacing them with higher quality houses.

According to its website, the mission of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is to eliminate poverty housing from the Twin Cities and to make decent, affordable shelter for all people as a matter of conscience.

Through its home ownership program, 840 local families have purchased Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity homes since its inception in 1985, the website states.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]