Olmsted County Reveals Housing "Crisis"

Created: 05/07/2014 5:49 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- A report is made public about the housing needs in Olmsted County. Local officials are preparing for more growing pains mostly because of Destination Medical Center, a good problem to have.


The good news is that the Olmsted County housing market is great right now for middle to upper income families. On the flip side, the study shows there’s a crisis when it comes to homes for low-income, workforce families.

"You saw the numbers, they're huge. We need a lot of workforce and affordable housing," said Rochester City Councilman Michael Wojcik.

The study says right now there's a one-percent vacancy for affordable housing. "On average, the community is producing about 20 affordable workforce housing units per year and there's a need for over 250 workforce housing units per year," said CEO of Greater Minnesota Housing, Warren Hanson.

Since the area is expected to grow exponentially, he says it's time to act now. "The real crunch is on here in Rochester because of the Destination Medical Center plans and the known growth that will occur," said Hanson.

Each on the panel Wednesday stressed the solution, isn’t just to build more homes. "We need to make sure that we situate housing and provide housing options that are right on transit. That can get them to work, can get them to other important places they need to go," said Wojcik. 

Transportation is one thing, but clearly there are a lot of factors in this crisis, and that's why the next step in fixing it is to form an planning group. "It will involve consultation with all of the major stakeholders, meaning the major employers, Olmsted County, the City of Rochester, Rochester Area Foundation, and various others as well as citizens," said Hanson.

That step, starts now. The goal is for the "input group" to create a housing plan by the end of the year and to start implementing those plans at the start of 2015. They're open to suggestions from anyone in the community, so if you'd like to pitch in, call your local leaders either in the county or city.

Photo: ABC 6 News