Greg Copeland on Affordable Housing at Forum

The following is from Questions and Answers from Polina Montes de Oca, the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Revitalization Program Manager, and answers from the original Vote NO candidate for Ward 6 City Council.  The Forum was to be held on October 5, 2019.

The City needs to re-do-the- tool -box. The regulatory powers of the city are simply not Neighborhood Friendly. The City’s regulatory tools are wedded to  a model that still works for the large property developers that are making millions developing the Green Line Corridor with their army of architects, planners, lawyers, finance experts and union tradespeople.  The City is set up to cater to the needs of the Big Boys; not neighborhoods and individuals or small business people.

We need a new model to plan and permit the rehabilitation of the single family and duplex structures that could help fill the gap in the affordable housing crisis in the short term if the City Council is willing to make the policy changes need to accommodate individual homeowner/investors and small business rehabbers. Given the hundreds of vacant homes in the City the City Council must be willing to operate outside the regulatory model that has helped to create and perpetuate the current problem. Saint Paul is not Detroit and we must stop demolishing homes as part of some final solution that keeps people from living in an affordable home that they can call their own.

The City of Saint Paul in addition to the $2 million Housing Trust Fund, also provides Capital Improvement Budget dollars to about a dozen neighborhood  not for profits to develop housing opportunities with about $3 million in 2019 and $2 million for 2020.

None of this is enough to make a significant difference in the current housing crisis. The City must attract outside dollars to create the affordable housing stock we need and to do it we must get the statutory caps on Housing Tax Credits used by the MN Housing Finance Agency to sell tax free housing bonds to private investors removed during this crisis. How is it in the public interest to limit

private investment in affordable housing? It isn’t!

Poverty has made it’s home on the East Side and their is no Cavalry that is coming rescue us from this man-made disaster. We need to see the 200 vacant buildings on the East Side as resources that can be turned into homes with affordable mortgages for which the City should remove all barriers to rehabilitation, such as eliminating building permit fees and other regulatory costs.  We need a special unit in Planning and Economic Development to manage our way out of this inventory of over 500 vacant buildings city wide and that does not mean relying on bulldozers and clam-shells to continue to tear down this housing stock. I want to see the City be creative and wise with it’s resources to leverage all other available funds such as Livable Community dollars from the Met Council. Without looking outside the status quo box we will be adding more houses that were homes to the vacant property list.

Density is not an issue in the short term.  People who have invested in their neighborhoods deserve the City’s protection of their investment. On the East Side we have always welcomed more dense housing options, as the current number of such properties gives testimony too.  When developers have wanted to build high density buildings we have welcomed them and as a senior single family homeowner I certainly support building more senior friendly buildings, which would also serve a young family that needs a big home and backyard.

Housing quality is always an issue in an area with many 100 year old homes as  well as post World War II homes and a large percentage of people living in poverty. These updating and maintenance issues present for both homeowners and landlords. This is an area where we have looked to neighborhood based organizations to play a role assisting low income homeowners with forgivable loans or other financing to make it possible for people to stay in their homes. We should continue these programs for homeowners, working families and seniors as well as explore new options for assisting landlords finance repairs to keep families in safe homes and apartments.





Greg Copeland Supports All St Paul Strong Principles

John Mannillo, the Chair of St Paul Strong asked St Paul Ward 6 City Council Candidate Greg Copeland whether he supports the 6 Principles of St Paul Strong.  Below are the principles of St Paul Strong, and Greg’s answer.

Saint Paul STRONG

The Six Principles of Saint Paul STRONG are:

SAFETY: We pledge to make public safety our top priority, maintaining efficient and effective first responder systems and enhancing citizen/community relationships with police, fire and other city departments.

TRUST: We will work to make sure full and informed citizen participation comes before decisions are made —not after—and put the interests of all the people, including the affected communities and the intended beneficiaries, ahead of personal or partisan interests.

RESPONSIBLE: We believe city officials must be accountable to all citizens—including persons of color, seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income residents, immigrants and refugees—and that they must be fully engaged to the public, not parties, and must respond to citizen concerns in a timely and nonpartisan fashion.

 OPEN: We will break down the barriers that exclude citizen participation and bring decision-making back into the public arena where it belongs; ensuring taxpayers are fully informed and have an opportunity to participate meaningfully in decision making.

NEIGHBORHOODS: We pledge to strengthen community voices and to work—across ward boundaries— to foster stronger neighborhoods with equal right and access to the resources and amenities of our city.

GENERATIONS: Understanding that our city was built by generations of people who loved it as we do, we pledge to build a stronger, safer and more beautiful city for the generations that will come after us.

Greg Copeland’s Answer

I remain in full support of the six Saint Paul Strong Principles outlined.

Obviously the decline in city enforcement of the law, arrest and prosecution  of criminals by the Carter Administration is resulting in the impression that some neighborhoods will be abandoned as they were by long term homeowners and new residents who no longer feel safe in Saint Paul, as was the case in the early 1990’s when drugs, vice, quality of life crimes and more occurred with out satisfactory action by elected City Leadership.

Sheriff Bob Fletcher is taking action to engage and support Saint Paul Neighbors to make the effort to fight criminal behavior. I would suggest and expansion of the language in the Neighborhoods section to reach not only beyond Wards, but to County Commissioners to coordinate their arterial road construction and maintenance program with the City of Saint Paul to Fix Our Damn Roads!  All entities must be willing to re-evaluate how we are using all Tax revenues for  transportation, including a discussion of filling the Gaps in our existing Metro Transit Bus System and more effective ways to complement and coordinate taxing authority and funding with federal, state and metro governments.

Critical to making any progress significant reforms is a strict Open Government Policy that does not view citizens as the enemy, but rather the catalyst for change and citizen satisfaction as a measure of successful and competent governance. The City Council and Port Authority have to start publishing complete agendas for all their meetings and broadcast these meetings live on Government Cable TV.

Thank you and the other leaders of Saint Paul Strong for the non-partisan leadership provided to bring a much needed Watchful Eye to Capitol City Governance.

Greg Copeland

Saint Paul City Council Candidate Ward 6





Saint Paul STRONG is a nonpartisan community-led organization dedicated to improving open and representative government in Saint Paul.