State Dedicates $10M for Housing in Job-Growth Areas

As part of an initiative signed by Governor Mark Dayton, $10 million will be used to provide affordable housing to Minnesota areas with booming employment opportunities.

State commissioners visited Roseau on Wednesday to discuss $10 million that is dedicated to constructing or renovating housing in northwestern Minnesota communities to accommodate growing work forces.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal met with Roseau officials to speak about the Housing and Job Growth Initiative. The initiative makes funding available for Minnesota communities where a lack of housing is quelling employee recruitment.
Governor Mark Dayton proposed the Housing and Job Growth Initiative earlier this year and called for putting $10 million in state funding toward the Housing Challenge Fund. The fund requires employers to match the state’s money—distributed in interest-free deferred loans, repayable in 30 years—for building or rehabbing rental or owner-occupied housing.
During the last housing boom, the Housing Challenge Fund attracted more than $15 million in non-state resources from Minnesota employers like Mayo Clinic, The Schwan Food Company, and Bluefin Bay resort, according to DEED.
“For some communities in Minnesota, support for housing is an important and timely investment for supporting job growth and developing a strong work force,” Sieben said in a statement. “We know that companies in Roseau and other northwestern Minnesota communities are growing. Stable, affordable housing is critical to their success and future growth.”  
One major Roseau employer is the continually expanding Polaris Industries, Inc., which has such a fast-growing work force that it will create the need for an additional 367 housing units by 2020, according to a recent study commissioned by the city.
According to DEED, other cities where housing problems are hurting major employee recruitment include Thief River Falls (Digi-Key and Arctic Cat), Warroad (Marvin Windows), Jackson (AGCO), and Worthington (JBS Swift & Co.).
In Thief River Falls, employment has grown four times as quickly as the population since 2000, resulting in 1,857 jobs, only 490 people, and a desperate housing shortage, according to the Star Tribune.
“Over the last two years I’ve heard community leaders and employers across the state cite lack of work force housing as a barrier to growth,” Tingerthal said in a statement. “We listened to you, we designed this program to help meet your needs.”
DEED and Minnesota Housing will work together to identify the top job-growth areas in the state that need housing. Proposals from the communities are due by June 18 and, after the review process, the money will be dolled out on November 7.
In 2008, the program helped finance the construction or rehab of more than 1,300 units of affordable housing in places like Moorhead, St. Cloud, Pipestone, and Faribault.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency and Minnesota Housing finances affordable housing opportunities for low-to-moderate income Minnesotans.
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