Senate Housing Committee tours Rochester’s low-income housing options

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(ABC 6 News) – It may only be September, but Minnesota lawmakers are already gearing up for next year’s legislative session.

On Tuesday, that preparation brought them to Rochester. Members of the Senate Housing Committee spent the day touring the city’s low-income housing options.

A lot of talk on the tour was that Rochester has been a great model for how to address low-income housing. Though officials agreed it’s still a problem, Rochester continues to work on solutions.

Senate Housing and Homelessness Prevention Chair Lindsey Port, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Liz Boldon and community leaders started the day at City Hall. The group then visited multiple housing properties, including the old dormitory for Luther College and the riverfront parking lot near City Hall.

“It’s been great to welcome the committee to see what we are doing in Rochester. We know there are needs for affordable housing here in our community and we are making progress to meet those needs,” said Boldon.

The city offers incentives for developers and property owners to make affordable housing more successful while offering a variety of places to live. But Senator Port says it’s not just about finding people a place to live, it’s giving them tools and resources to become more financially stable. This year’s omnibus bill provided $40 million to make this happen.

“To help build collaboration there and ways to make those systems easier. So, people don’t have to go three different places to get the services they need,” said Port.

One place in Rochester does just that, the Jeremiah Program.

JP provides housing to single mothers and their kids while also getting them access to a college education, financial services and childcare.

“I think that really is the future when you think of affordable and supportive housing. It has all of those pieces connected,” said Port.

The two senators are excited for the next legislative session to discuss housing and use Rochester as an example.

“I really think our focus is impacting housing for folks. Making sure everyone across the state has accessible, stable housing and the work that we are doing here in Rochester to make that reality for more people I think is a model and a process that can influence communities across the state,” said Sen. Boldon.

The next legislative session starts on Feb. 12, 2024.