A agreement between Faribault’s Housing & Redevelopment Authority and Rice County Habitat for Humanity will allow the local nonprofit to continue its work building affordable homes for people in need.
At the HRA’s July 9 meeting, the authority agreed to put $10,000 toward building permit fees for 2018 Habitat homes, money that can only be used for affordable homes.
“That’s great. We’re appreciative of their support,” said Rice County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dayna Norvold.
The HRA and Rice County Habitat for Humanity have partnered many times in the last 20 years to build affordable homes for local families. Some of their past partnerships included lot donations; waived building permits, and water and sewer hookup fees; and financial counseling for Habitat for Humanity’s employees to provide assistance to clients.
In 2011, the HRA approved a plan that allowed tax dollars it received from a special housing district to be used for Habitat for Humanity building projects. This plan is still ongoing.
Rice County is currently conducting a housing study to help determine housing needs in the county. Preliminary results show a need for affordable housing in Faribault.
According to Norvold, there are many single- and dual-income families in the county unable to afford housing. Currently, in Rice County, rental costs are rising, while renter income is decreasing. According to information from the Minnesota Housing Partnership, in 2015, median renter income was $28,784, a decrease of approximately 26 percent in comparison to median renter income in 2000, which was $39,160. From 2000 to 2015, median rent rose 1 percent.
Additionally, owner household values are rising. In 2000, the median home value was $170,949. By 2015, that increased to $185,200. In contrast, median owner income also decreased. In 2000, median owner income was at $75,176; five years later, it was $4,350 less.
To afford a median-valued home in Rice County, a person needs to earn $55,560 a year, according to Minnesota Housing Partnership data. To live in a two-bedroom apartment in the county, a person needs an annual salary of $32,724. The annual median income for a registered nurse is $58,354, while a food prep/serving employee makes $18,978.
Homelessness is still an issue in southern Minnesota. Homelessness has decreased since 2012, but it is still a persistent problem. From 2012-15, homelessness dropped by 8 percent, still leaving 272 Rice County children and 26 seniors homeless.
Currently, Faribault’s housing needs include all types of housing, including single and multi-family homes. Habitat for Humanity fills some of that need and makes it a reality for families who may not otherwise be able to afford a home of their own.
According to Kim Clausen, Community Development coordinator, Habitat for Humanity is good at screening potential partner families. Also, they help potential homeowners repair bad credit and assist with qualifying for credit if they do not currently qualify.
Habitat for Humanity homeowners have a low-rate of foreclosure and the majority of its families remain in their homes. Not only are its houses affordable, but they are also built to be energy efficient.
In 2018, Rice County Habitat plans to build five homes in Faribault, bringing its total since 1991 to 19 homes.
“We love building houses for families in need,” Norvold said.