New Affordable Housing Program for Olmsted County to be Voted

Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) – A new initiative to meet affordable housing needs in Olmsted County is expected to be voted on next week. Its price is $ 16 million.

The recommendation will be taken up by Olmsted County Council at its Tuesday meeting.

County staff recommend “A five-year investment in affordable housing to create and preserve more than 1,100 affordable housing units in Olmsted County and a new program to build and purchase affordable housing to help more residents access homeownership.” “ The money will come from the $ 30 million the county received from the US federal bailout fund law.

The County and City of Rochester have been working on several housing initiatives and programs for the homeless during the pandemic.

Here’s what the city did:

  • The city has provided over $ 875,000 in funds for the operation / renovation of the day center currently operated by The Landing.
  • During the governor’s stay-at-home order, the city coordinated $ 475,000 in emergency services program grants through three different funding rounds for homeless services. The city has also allocated $ 400,000 for operations and construction at the Silver Lake station. The city’s Community Development Block Grant funds support the program by paying for utilities.

County initiatives include:

  • In late 2019, the county partnered with Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota to open the Rochester Community Warming Center.
  • During the COVID pandemic, the warming center remained open beyond the winter. It has since been expanded to accommodate more people. The warming center served 455 unduplicated people in 2020 and spent an average of 900 shelter nights per month. The warm-up center will continue to operate year round with a new partnership that includes a county social worker present during evening admission. This person will start to find more stable housing as soon as possible when they seek shelter.
  • The county also created a Housing Stability Team with six employees in 2020 that has helped find permanent housing for more than 150 people since its inception.
  • The county has also improved the supply of and access to permanent housing through innovative programs such as the Master Leasing program. This program allows people with a poor rental or credit history to rent from the county as a landlord and build up a credit history. Olmsted County has created over 100 new rental assistance units for its most vulnerable residents.

Olmsted County Housing Director Dave Dunn says “The key to best practice is to focus on finding long-term housing. The goal of shelters, on the other hand, is to connect people to housing as quickly as possible, making the experience rare, brief and unique.

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