Olmsted County home prices skyrocketing, affordable housing

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester is growing rapidly and with new developments popping up more and more often so are plans for affordable housing options.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that costs 30 percent of a person’s income, according to Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Households earning $50,000 a year or less qualify for affordable housing rental units. The qualifying income level goes to $70,000 for people trying to buy a home.

But it’s becoming increasingly challenging for many in our area to find an affordable place to live as home prices are on the rise.

The median home price is up $56,000 since 2015.

Housing advocates blame the rising costs partly on self-imposed fees like building codes that are critical for safety or energy efficiency but also add to the cost of building a house.

“All those things are essential, it just becomes a matter of how we charge for them,” said Steve Borchardt, director of the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing. “If we load it all on the new build, we make it very difficult to build affordably and we drive people out of the opportunity to own a house…”If some folks feel like they’re being left behind, I’d say the alternative, a stagnant community is worse.”

More than 5,000 apartment units have been built since 2014 in Rochester, but only about 1,000 are priced affordably for a household with an annual income of 60 percent of area median income, according to the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing.

St.Paul-based non-profit CommonBond Communities plans to build 127 apartment units above Rochester’s Parking Ramp Number 6 next to the Hilton. 63 are priced at affordable housing rates.

For those who do not meet the income requirements for affordable housing Borchardt encourages people to look at some fourplexes and duplexes tucked into Rochester neighborhoods.

Multifamily Rent and income limits:

Linda Ha

Linda Ha

Reporter | @LindaHaTV | lha@kttc.com

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