A recent report prepared for the Consortium of Housing Authorities and Private Developers projects an increased need for affordable senior housing statewide in the coming years.

Based on the analysis released by Maxfield Research, the population aged 55 years or older in the state is expected to increase from 1.57 million in 2015 to 1.83 million by 2020, an increase of nearly 17 percent in five years.

Barbara Dacy, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Minnesota chapter president, points to several growing problems laid out in the report. They include high rents, low vacancy rates and a cut in federal funding.

“The demography and the market is combining for a potential problem for the future,” says Dacy.

In Rice County, according to the report, last year there were an estimated 17,783 people over 55 years of age. That number is expected to climb to 20,812 in 2020 and 24,427 in 2030.

According to Faribault City Planner David Wanberg, the city’s comprehensive plan is in the early stages of development, but will work to address those increased numbers.

“We’re starting our comprehensive plan and looking at land use and where we’re going to put certain types of housing. Another aspect is the housing itself, where we’ll get into a fair amount of detail between now and 2040,” Wanberg said. “We’re looking at ways we can address the baby-boom generation that started retiring around 2010 or so, and that will continue through the year 2040.”

Projections for the change in demographics in Faribault were released in a housing study covering the city in 2011. At that time, the projected growth reflected a similar trend. Most of the growth in population was in those over the age of 55.

In the same housing study, the high level of attractiveness Faribault has for seniors is cited as an additional reason behind continued growth of an older population.

Specifically, it is an appealing retirement location due to it being the provider of the region’s health, retail and government services; all of which are considered to be significant when seniors are choosing where to retire.

The last two years, MONEY magazine included Northfield while listing places for the best well-rounded retirement. Several of Northfield’s “perks” included a college-town feel, a low cost of living, a close proximity to the Twin Cities and Mayo Clinic, its community events such as Winter Walk and Defeat of Jesse James Days and its thriving Senior Center.

According to Housing Coordinator Janine Atchison, from the studies she has looked through based on the most recent census information, seniors, specifically people from age 55 to 65, are the fastest growing segment of the population in Northfield.

Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) said in discussions with mayors and city administrators that affordable housing as a whole has come up. He also heard the concerns while serving on the rural task force.

Just last week, the Northfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority discussed its work plan, and in that is senior housing.

“That’s something we will be looking at over the course of the next year,” Atchison said.

At the Northfield Retirement Community, Shelley Holden, vice president of residential housing and property management, said the units are full and names are on a waiting list. For the affordable housing waiting list, however, it’s only five or six, she said.

“We’re always focusing on what’s next,” she said, regarding the growing population of seniors.

With time, she expects the waiting lists to grow, but how the NRC, or the surrounding community, will respond is not exactly known. But she sees the Northfield community as being ripe for some type of cooperation.

“In the next five years, something has to change,” she said. “There are networks of people who are trying to figure out [the] next steps.”

Daniel covers Faribault government, business and public safety. Reach him at 507-333-3128 or on Twitter @FDNDaniel. Minnesota News Service contributed to this report.

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