Sen. Smith Looks for Local Insight on Affordable Housing

August 14, 2019 06:11 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Local officials and community members got the chance to share their experiences with affordable housing with members of Senator Tina Smith’s staff Wednesday.

“Certainly it’s a local problem, but it’s a national issue, too,” said Steve Borchardt, Director of the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing. 


It’s a problem Rochester and Southeast Minnesota know all too well.

“Rochester does have destination medical center. It isn’t necessarily rural, but it feeds rural, so many rural communities around them have employees that travel into Rochester, but also people in Rochester travelling out to work,” said Bree Maki, Senior Outreach Director for Sen. Smith.

“Housing has always been something where it’s sort of like the foundation of people’s health and happiness and thriving in their communities,” Maki said.

“It’s different in every community. Certainly a lack of inventory is similar throughout,” Borchardt said.

It’s because the problem is so widespread that Sen. Smith’s staff stopped in Rochester on a statewide listening tour.

“Rochester was one of the first visits that she did around housing back when she was first appointed as a senator,” Maki said.

“It’s about more than affordable housing. It’s about housing period right now. We are under-inventoried at all levels of the market, and it is nationwide,” Borchardt said.

What do you think are the key factors as far as affordable housing, or lack thereof, in your area and what would you like to see done?  Let Sen. Smith know!  Send an e-mail or video message directly to her by clicking on the LegiSpeak widget below.

Need to know more about how LegiSpeak works? Click here.

With the issue far from over, hearing from people in communities who are struggling or working hand-in-hand with people affected gives locals a voice, and policymakers some insight on the real struggles happening around the country.

“We are not the experts, everybody else is,” Maki said.

“In a small town and rural Minnesota, they are missing market-rate housing. In larger communities like ours that are experiencing rapid economic growth, we are missing an inventory for low and middle-income people,” Borchardt said.

Sen. Smith’s listening tour will continue across the state throughout the month of August.


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