Open house set for Winnebago housing study

Local News

Economic Development Authority board members will spend $350 to host an open house so Winnebago residents can hear results of a housing study.

EDA specialist Jennifer Howard condensed findings of the study during an EDA meeting held last Wednesday.

The study conducted by Bolton & Menk cost $22,531, which was paid by grants from Bevcomm, Compeer Financial, Greenfield Global and Minnesota Housing.

Howard says the 156-page report collected interesting data that was used to identify top priorities for housing.

She says the cost of building a new house can range from $250,000 up to $350,000 and that’s not feasible.

We need to focus more on how we can rehabilitate, improve and maintain houses we currently have,” she says. “One of our challenges is how do we build new homes when you can’t afford to live in the house once it’s built because it costs so much.”

Howard says 37 percent of the homes in the city are more than 80 years old and 60 percent were built before 1950.

Because the city has 86 vacant lots, one of the strategies would be to construct single-family slab on grade home or module homes.

Vacant lots are a great for a developer to create slab on grade homes,” she says.

According to the study, 50 percent of the homes do not have a mortgage and the average home value is $91,322.

The study found that 34 percent of the residents in Winnebago receive Social Security, only 15 percent of those who are retired also have some form of pension and the average income is $54,000 to $70,000.

Of those who are employed, 48 percent have a white collar job, 37 percent are blue collar workers and 15 percent work in the service industry.

Other strategies to address housing include modular homes, building homes for new and retired families.

City officials have already taken a first step to encourage new home construction by approving a five-year tax abatement program. Earlier this month, Faribault County commissioners also approved a county-wide tax abatement program.

Currently, there are 707 housing units in Winnebago and 60 percent of the single-family homes are occupied by families.

A survey of 186 participants found that 50 percent of the respondents preferred construction on vacant lots, 34 percent want new homes in existing neighborhoods and 17 percent thought a housing complex should be created.

Howard says the Internet and installation of fiber optics in the area can help attract remote workers and improve the workforce pipeline.

We need to figure out a way to provide workforce market-rate housing,” she says.

The Housing Study Open House is set for 7 p.m. on June 20 at the Municipal Center, with a meal catered by Huntley Cafe.

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