Workshop offers stratagies for increasing the supply of affordable housing

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More than 125 community leaders, lenders and housing professionals from across south central Minnesota participated in a workshop to create community strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing. New and expanding employers are in need of an adequate work force making housing is a key economic development issue to meet the growing demand for labor.
The one day workshop co-sponsored by the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, The Initiative Fund, Economic Partners of Southeast Minnesota and Heartland Properties, Inc addressed innovative approaches to planning and development of affordable housing, engaging employers in the housing solutions and public/private partnerships to contain the rising cost of housing.
In the keynote address, Kit Hadley, Commissioner for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency emphasized the growing mismatch in the housing market between what the private sector can deliver and what households can afford. Commissioner Hadley noted that, "In the next five years, we will need 6,000 for sale homes and 18,500 apartments, which neither the private sector nor the public sector can deliver on their own."
Despite nearly 11,000 households being created annually in Greater Minnesota, unemployment is at an unprecedented low of 2.1 percent and more than 21,000 jobs are being created each year. Warren Hanson, President of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund explained, "The gap of what working families can afford and the cost of new construction is widening. A new apartment that costs $60,000 to build rents for $836 per month, while a nurses aide or mechanic can only afford $450-650 per month."
Throughout the workshop, participants learned of available resources to address the housing gap. Communities shared success stories on how they brought the pieces together to create vital, new residential neighborhoods. Albert Lea is working with Newbury Development, a private developer and HPI to add 24-two and three bedroom townhomes. The Weertz Company, a local employer in Winnebago, helped create eight homes as an incentive to retain and expand the local work force. In the Rochester area, the First Homes program is a $12.5 million employer assisted initiative with a goal of adding up to 1,000 new starter homes over the next five years.
The new insights, ideas, resources and real life examples provided during the workshop provided a call to action for communities to implement housing strategies and sustainable economic growth across Greater Minnesota.

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