Habitat for Humanity celebrates new affordable housing project - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Habitat for Humanity celebrates new affordable housing project

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Affordable housing continues to be an issue in the state and in Rochester and many groups have stepped up to help. 

Habitat for Humanity, Homes for All MN, Olmsted County and local legislators have been working towards solutions. On Thursday, they all got together to celebrate Habitat's next project.

Habitat had an open house to showcase the house they are currently working on, and to talk about the need for affordable housing in the community.

The house sat empty for five years, gradually deteriorating and now uninhabitable in a Rochester neighborhood just four blocks off South Broadway.

It was through the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority that Habitat  was able to buy the tax-forfeited land for $20,000.

"Finding available properties that will work both in financial and physical ways is a very big challenge in the current housing market that we have in Rochester," said Representative Duane Sauke.

When Habitat got the land they had to decide how much of it they can salvage. It turned out the foundation can't be salvaged, so they're removing the entire house, all the way down to the footing and start fresh.

"In the last 2 to 3 years lot prices have virtually doubled in cost that for us to obtain an affordable lot is really difficult now," said  Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager Brian Wimmer. "So for the county to do this made it possible for us again to get into the business of building again this year, so we can build yet another affordable home for a family that couldn't afford a home that would be out on the typical market."

In addition to finding suitable properties, another aspect of the problem is some people don't make enough in wages.

"Not everybody can get a job that pays a living wage," said Representative Tina Liebling. "And so you can have two parents working full time who still are not able to afford market-rate housing."

Most of the construction workers working on the project are volunteers. Since Habitat is calling the project a tear-down, it likely will not be ready until next Spring.

The Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority also sold Habitat another old home and its land in Chatfield for $5,000.

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