Headwaters Regional Development Commission - Bemidji, MN Way - housing

By: Hrdc Eaid  09-12-2011
Keywords: Housing


HRDC Pledges to Lead the Way in the Development of Green Housing

With rising energy costs and a renewed focus on living green, the HRDC has committed to operating ahead of the leading edge within the realm of green housing development.  Building green is a good place to be in many ways.  It not only lowers energy consumption and operating costs for homeowners, it promotes healthy living and awareness.  However, there will be challenges in balancing affordable housing with green design.  This is a challenge that we intend to meet head on.  The HRDC is currently creating green development plans and strategies in conjunction with our most prominent statewide funding agencies, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.  Together we will be able to meld “green” with “affordable” and emphasize the marketability of environmentally sound building.  Living green and building green are no longer catch phrases for the eccentric; sustainability is the only answer if we wish to remain solvent and continue leading the way for affordable housing development within the Headwaters Region.

The Headwaters RDC has adopted a goal of developing twenty units of affordable housing on an annual basis.  This goal remains unaltered amidst current market conditions.  The Headwaters RDC and its subsidiary housing entity, the Headwaters Housing Development Corporation, have a schedule in place to produce fifteen affordable single family homes throughout the Region annually.  We are very close to our ultimate goal of 20 units and have many promising new ventures on the horizon to get us there.  The key to the maintenance and expansion of current production levels lies within the cultivation and development of strong partnerships.  Additionally, the growth of new marketing strategies will be paramount in the coming years, as we are certain that our target niche exists in numbers greater than we currently reach.

The Headwaters RDC and HHDC have continued housing development projects this year using many of the same building models used in the past.  This year the HHDC contracted with the Department of Corrections Institutional Community Work Crew Program.  The ICWC crew is expected to build six homes per year for the HHDC and is currently working on scattered site development projects in rural Beltrami County.  In the coming years the ICWC crew will focus on single family housing rehabilitation and the build out of our latest rural subdivision, Sunset Meadows.  This subdivision is located three miles west of Bemidji and will provide unique amenities in the form of a recreational trail system.

The Bemidji High School Carpentry program continues to impress everyone who is aware of their work by producing quality results year after year.  The foundation of this success is strong support from the School District, an amazing instructor, and dedicated students.  This year the students are constructing a single family home northwest of Bemidji in the Mid Valley Estates subdivision.

The Headwaters RDC recently completed two houses in Park Rapids working with Krotzer Construction, Inc., a builder dedicated to quality affordable housing.  In addition, we are working with the Hubbard County HRA and other local agencies to identify several potential housing projects.  We are intent on building strong relationships with our Hubbard County partners and our current work will provide a base for the creation of a robust housing presence in the south of our Region.  As part of this effort, Headwaters RDC recently helped Hubbard County HRA complete a Housing Study and Housing Plan for Hubbard County.  Headwaters RDC staff intends to help implement strategies included in the Plan.

In addition to the projects listed above, the Headwaters RDC and HHDC are pursuing housing initiatives within the cities of Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck and Mahnomen.  These projects are in various stages of development and local partners from each community have committed resources to aid us in our efforts.

Headwaters RDC supported the efforts of the HHDC and HRA by accessing affordable financing products for use throughout the Region.  Headwaters RDC staff helped Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard and Lake of the Woods Counties and the City of Mahnomen request an allocation of Minnesota City Participation low interest mortgage financing.  Assuming the State is able to sell bonds, these resources will help several families in the Region purchase their first home.

Headwaters RDC also worked with lenders and other partners in Beltrami County and the Park Rapids area to access Community Activity Set Aside mortgage financing to support the construction and sale of affordable single family housing in those communities.  Finally, Headwaters RDC staff accessed gap financing resources from Minnesota Housing and Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Wells Fargo Foundation to help moderate income families get into homes that they would otherwise be unable to afford.

The Headwaters Housing Development Corporation has built and sold affordable single family houses since its incorporation in 1998.  The organization plans to continue building affordable housing throughout the Region, including homes that will be sold to moderate income working families.  One such project involves the redevelopment of an old MN/DOT storage site in the City of Bemidji into a high quality mixed-income residential neighborhood.  Development of workforce housing in other communities, such as Park Rapids, Bagley and Baudette, is also being actively pursued.

HHDC has begun to pursue three new development opportunities that will help a new market niche and help meet needs not currently being addressed.  One new venture is the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program.  This USDA Rural Development program provides funds to help organizations work with groups of moderate income families to collectively build affordable homes.  USDA provides the construction funds, then provides the back end mortgage financing for the participating families.  Initiation of this program is pending availability of USDA financial resources.

A second new venture involves the development of supportive and transitional housing in Bemidji.  The housing would be developed by the HHDC and owned by the Beltrami County HRA.  This multiple-family housing would serve homeless families and individuals in the Bemidji are.  The housing would provide shelter and services needed in order to help these families and individuals be successful.  This development could begin as soon as 2010.

Finally, the HHDC intends to ramp-up its capacity to rehabilitate substandard housing throughout the Region.  The rehabilitation focus will include purchase, rehabilitation and resale of existing homes.  This activity will allow the organization to meet a broader range of community needs and assist lower income households achieve home ownership.

These three activities will help meet needs that are not currently being addressed, and keep the HRDC moving aggressively toward its goal of twenty units annually.

Keywords: Housing

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