Commissioner Jim Bier - County Helps Provide a Place to Call Home
5/13/2019 Published in the Post Bulletin on May 11, 2019

Jim Bier, Chair, Olmsted County Board of Commissioners

Everyone should have a place to call home in Olmsted County. For 3,000 Olmsted County residents, home is provided through assistance by the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA). This stable housing allows more than 1,500 children to thrive in our schools, seniors and people with disabilities to live a dignified life, and first-generation Americans a place to grow roots. 

The life circumstances of each person and family are unique, and housing needs are different as well. In order to have a healthy, functioning community, we need to have housing choices for everyone. To that end, Olmsted County HRA aims to enhance housing stability and housing stock.

Housing stability is about helping people find a place to call home. Many people have barriers to housing. We work with other Olmsted County and community resources to minimize those barriers, so these individuals can thrive in our community. Housing stability is an essential component of health and well-being. Without shelter – a place to call home – it is very difficult to address other life challenges.

Housing stock refers to homes available in our county. One of the biggest issues we face is having enough housing units. Not only do we need more of them, but we also need to preserve the units already in existence to ensure they stay in working condition. We also need to address the issue of the unsheltered homeless. We are working on solutions on all of these fronts. 

The Housing Choice Voucher program is one way we support housing options for people in the community. Through this program, clients are able to find a decent, safe place to live and thrive in our community. The rent they pay is tied to their incomes, so as their life circumstances change, so do their housing costs.

Another way we help enhance housing in our community is through the Housing Rehabilitation Program. This loan program is offered to any qualifying homeowner in Olmsted County. Loans (of up to $25,000) enable the individual or family to make improvements to their home at a 2% interest rate with no payments due until the house is sold. 

We also know that finding innovative housing solutions requires us to partner with a variety of stakeholders. We are partnering with the Jeremiah Program to provide housing for young women completing secondary education. Additionally, we are partnering with Center City Housing to provide housing for our most vulnerable populations, and every day, we work with the City of Rochester, Mayo Clinic, and Rochester Area Foundation to find innovative new housing options in our community.
 
Through these and other efforts, we help people find a place to call home – an element so vital to ensuring all individuals in Olmsted County have the chance to reach their fullest potential.