A new approach to affordable housing

(ABC 6 News) – Affordable housing is an issue people in Rochester may be familiar with.

Cities from across Southeast Minnesota came together to think of creative ways to solve this problem at an event at Mayo Civic Center Thursday,.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership says in Rochester over the past 10 years, rent has increased 18 percent but income has gone down three percent. MHP also stresses that investing in affordable housing helps the entire community.

“And there is not enough housing to attract the workers to support this booming economy,” said Anne Mavity, the executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

Developer Rick Harrison understands this. Harrison partners with Noble Development Group.

The team is breaking ground on the first part of a new Northwest Rochester housing project this week.

The project, called the Ponds of Highland Hills, will be 524 acres of housing focused on affordability and sustainability. The development will be pedestrian-focused and built around walking paths. It will include affordable homes at 50 to 80 percent of the area’s median income. But there is a catch.

“The zoning would be to put the lowest price housing at the front door, and then the next price point and the next price point, and then the lowest price housing is never a part of that community. We reversed that,” Harrison said of his development.

Harrison will mix affordable housing with market rate so that there’s no “low-income” area. There is just community.

“The lower-priced housing buyer feels like they’re in an upper-end neighborhood and not pushed to the side. You’re just making the quality of life a little bit better. And that’s really our goal with this development,” he said.

“Having a home is fundamental to everybody,” added Mavity.