Report finds affordable housing an elusive destination in Rochester


A new study of housing in the Rochester area is setting off some alarm bells about affordablility.

KAAL says the report released Wednesday shows housing options for workers with modest incomes are already scarce. And some in Olmsted County worry the shortage could stifle the economic growth planners expect around the Mayo Clinic's 20-year expansion known as Destination Medical Center.

The 350-page report was put together by Maxfield Research on behalf of Mayo, Olmsted County, and the Rochester Area Foundation.

The number of jobs created by Destination Medical Center has been estimated at 30,000 to 50,000. As the Post-Bulletin reports, some of those will be high-paying medical jobs but more will be in food service, retail, construction, or education.

The report by Maxfield shows the vacancy rate for affordably-priced rental housing units in Olmsted County is 1.2 percent. An official with the Minnesota Housing Fund tells the Post-Bulletin 5 percent is generally a healthy balance between supply and demand.

The president of the Rochester Area Foundation, JoAnne Stormer, tells the newspaper the city could be poised for a housing crisis similar to one it faced in the 1990s:

"Even though they came here with great jobs, people were leaving in the late '90s because they couldn't find housing," she said. "If we do nothing, people will come here and then leave. They go hand in hand. "

KAAL says a planning group that's now forming will aim to make recommendations by the end of the year on what the area can do to help with the shortage.

Apart from housing an expanding workforce, the Maxfield report also identifies a shortage of options for retirees. It says the affordable rental rate for senior housing is 0.8 percent.

KTTC reported last week on the opening of an assisted living center in Rochester. The station says the number of residents over age 60 in the city is projected to double by 2030.

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