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Community Leaders Meet, Address Mankato Area Housing Issue

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Dozens of people from different areas of work met in Mankato Thursday to put their minds together to focus on a main topic: Mankato area's housing needs.

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency commissioner, Mary Tingerthal, says, "It's a really broad group of people. We have folks from the banking community, folks from the real estate community, property managers, property developers. We also have folks from the social services sector which work with people that have suffered homelessness."

Coming together to talk out one problem: Affordable Area Housing.

Tingerthal says, "Now we're faced with rising house prices and rising rents and an increased burden on affordability."

With not building many housing units in the city in the last 5 years and an improved economy, housing is scarce.

Tingerthal says, "The housing market has gotten very tight in this area. Below two percent vacancy. The natural vacancy rate is thought to be about three to four percent which allows for the turnover of units. And there's also a lot of renters in this community that are what we call cost burdened which means that they are spending more than thirty percent of their income on their housing costs."

An issue that affects well over fifty percent of renters in the area.

With the high demand, housing like this new complex on Sibley Parkway, focuses on certain demographics.

CEO of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, Rick Goodemann, says, "What this type of project really caters to is entry level working families. So it's people that are entering the workforce or they have fairly large families."

Putting plans in motion and creating ideas before the problem gets bigger.

Tingerthal says, "The lack of housing can be a barrier to economic growth and vitality and so it's important that the business community and the community at large not just hope that housing will take care of itself but really pay attention to it as a community issue."