The city of Northfield knows it has a shortage of housing.
The Housing and Redevelopment Authority last month took a step to get a better idea of the scope of the issue by unanimously voting to spend up to $25,000 for a comprehensive housing study.
A request for proposals is expected to be sent out this week, with responses due by mid-December. The housing study project will be complete by mid-April and will serve as a footprint of the housing the city has, any shortfalls and any expected future needs. The study will serve as a necessary tool for developers and businesses that want to locate to the city but need to have a better idea of the housing market.
Northfield Housing Coordinator Janine Atchison said such studies should be completed every two to three years, but she believes because of Northfield’s relatively small population that can be stretched to three or four.
“It’s going to be a very comprehensive study,” she said.
Northfield Community Development Director Mitzi Baker said although useful for businesses, private housing studies can be so targeted as to miss the larger scale findings public governments often need.
“We are looking at a broader spectrum,” she said.
Baker noted a Twin Cities-based development company told her that to be interested in developing in the Northfield area, it needs to see housing data from another source.
Baker expects the study to include community engagement, including at least two public meetings.
Atchison noted to help fill the housing shortage, the HRA hopes to develop the 28-unit Spring Creek Townhomes project on land it owns on the southeast side of town. The organization expects to learn this month whether they will receive tax credit dollars that would help make the project more affordable.
To Atchison, the community’s housing needs span beyond a lack of affordable stock. She said the city needs to ensure it is expanding housing and building according to community need. In doing so, she said Northfield can cater to incoming professionals from a variety of sectors.
“Resources are rare, and we need to make sure that we are putting resources into the right places,” she said.