JCA Organizer Aaron Berc's Testimony on the Ford Site

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JCA Organizer Aaron Berc shared his testimony in support of more affordable units, increased accessibility, and higher density for the proposed redevelopment of the Ford Assembly Plant site in the Highland Park neighborhood of Saint Paul on Friday June 30th at a City Council hearing. The proposed redevelopment could potentially house up to 7,000 new residents in 2,500-4,000 units, 20% of which would be affordable. 

My name is Aaron Berc, I am a Community Organizer at Jewish Community Action, where I organize with our community around affordable housing issues in the Twin Cities.  Additionally, my father grew up on Jefferson and Cretin, so my family's ties to this area go back decades.                                

I do not want to mince words.  Right now the Twin Cities Metro Area is in a housing crisis.  We are seeing the largest population growth in the Twin Cities in decades.  It isn’t just millennials moving into the city, but baby boomer empty nesters who want to move to the cities as well.  This influx of new city dwellers is pushing our rental supply market to extremely low vacancy rates, especially for units that are affordable to those of us not earning at or above the area median income.

At maximum density, the Master Plan for the Ford Site development proposes 800 units of affordable housing.  Jewish Community Action supports the highest density plan, specifically the creation of 800 affordable units.  We implore the planning commission and the city to strengthen the plan for affordable housing development at the Ford Site by creating 10% of the affordable units available to households earning 30% of Area Median Income, and an additional 10% of affordable units available to households earning 50% Area Median Income.

The Torah teaches that Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, is an inspiring host.  Not only does Abraham keep the doors of his tent open to any weary traveler who may pass by, but Abraham himself wanders the roads near his tent to find strangers to welcome into his home.  The City of St. Paul has the opportunity to be like Abraham with the development at the Ford Site.  I urge the City to keep the doors open to those who have been displaced by rising rents & inadequate supply of affordable housing.  We must build enough homes for our neighbors who are being displaced by rising rents, and for anyone else who wants to move to St. Paul.  Abraham was proactive in finding those who needed shelter, we urge the City to do the same.  Please commit to building these 800 affordable units.

Thank you.

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