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Housing Solutions: No "One Size Fits All"

August 23, 2018 08:55 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- It's a wide-ranging plan to meet Minnesota's housing needs.

Governor Mark Dayton this week unveiled a task force report that calls for construction of 300,000 homes in Minnesota by the year 2030.

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The report also focuses on preserving existing homes and keeping them affordable and assisting those at risk of eviction and recommends a public-private partnership to monitor the state's housing market.

While the task force recommendations represent a broad approach to addressing Minnesota's housing crisis, there's no "one size fits all" plan to solve the problem.

In fact, there may be as many different plans as there are cities.

"We are short of housing here in Austin. I think we're particularly short of rental housing, market-rate housing," Sandy Forstner said.

Throw a handful of darts at a map of Minnesota and you could hit Austin or Rochester, Minnetonka or Bemidji or any of hundreds of other communities. And the housing need in each of them is going to be different.

"The reality of housing is really specific to a community,” Austin city administrator Craig Clark said. “We did kind of an exhaustive background of just incomes, the dynamic that exists in Austin, the demand."

"We have about 5,500 people that come to Austin to work but they don't live here," said Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.

"There was demand at all income levels, all age groups,” Craig Clark said of the housing survey. “I think what we tried to zero in one was some of the market rate challenges.”

To help meet those challenges, a developer has proposed building an 82 unit market-rate housing complex in northwest Austin.

"We also looked at doing and moving forward now with a 38 unit townhome project that's income-limited on affordable housing" city administrator Craig Clark said.

And meeting your housing needs has a ripple effect.

"Our businesses are growing particularly our larger industries, but they need people.  That's their most valuable asset” the Chamber’s Sandy Forstner said. “When you live here you go to church here, your kids go to school here you shop here you get involved in organizations here, you become a part of the community and everyone benefits from your employment here.

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