New housing option targets the workforce

Alice Keefe
Created: October 10, 2019 10:58 PM

Finding quality, affordable housing continues to be a struggle for so many in our communities. 

Just this week, Olmsted County’s housing choice voucher program drew three times the number of applicants that can be accepted on the waiting list.


“Anytime a new apartment building opens that has affordable housing options it’s just a huge benefit for the community,” said Dave Dunn, executive director of the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The newly built Eastgate apartments in southeast Rochester are no exception.

“It was a pretty daring experiment because it wasn’t an intersection and a location that folks thought was naturally for housing,” said

Steve Borchardt, director of the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing.

The 135-unit building is near the intersection of Highway 14 and Marion Road.

“As a result, I think they were able to get the land a little more economically and so they could better afford to make an affordable rental project,” Borchardt said.

Eastgate opened in August, offering a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom rentals.

“Really targeting people who are working in the community, but maybe are in the $40,000 to $30,000 a year, and don’t have enough to afford a market place to rent downtown, or somewhere else in the community,” Dunn said.

Affordable housing in the region is difficult to find, and with so many high paying jobs driving up the area’s median income, even what’s technically considered “affordable” is out of reach for many.

“We’re kind of growing to a point now where we need to see more built at 50 percent area median income, even below that,” Borchardt said.

20 percent of Eastgate’s units are at that 50 percent area median income (AMI). 

60 percent are at 60 percent AMI, with a studio apartment priced just below $900. The rest of the units are at 70 percent AMI.

“Anything we can do to provide more housing for people to give them that stability in life really helps them and their families thrive,” Dunn said.

Eastgate broke ground in May 2018. Right now, 60 percent of their units are leased.

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