New housing vs. used: Nonprofits try new tactic in affordability wars

31 Oct 2018

Heather Cassell knows it’s cheaper to buy something that’s used.

“Pretty much everything I have is used,” said Cassell, 39, a single mother of three boys. “I don’t see why I would buy anything new. It’s a lot less expensive.”

Her landlord has learned the same lesson. Cassell can live in her Little Canada apartment only because the housing nonprofit Aeon bought it used — rather than trying to build new apartments.

Minneapolis-based Aeon and other affordable-housing advocates have been buying thousands of units of existing housing to keep the rents low, allowing renters like Cassell to stay where they are.

The old approach — building new units with government subsidies — isn’t keeping up with the gap between household income and rents.

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