ROCHESTER, Minn. - Building and protecting existing affordable housing is a top priority for a branch of the Rochester Area Foundation.
First Homes just purchased the Center Street Village Apartments to prevent a private developer from buying the building and possibly increasing rent prices. The effort has been in the works since last July.
President of First Homes Jennifer Wood explained, "There are 36 units in this property and we don't have in our community 36 other affordable units this close to downtown that they could just move into."
During a ribbon cutting on Monday the non-profit said it will maintain the apartment complex as Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) to provide affordable rentals for people under 50-percent of area median income.
Mayor Kim Norton says that's a priority for the city. She added, "To be able to preserve the housing that we have rather than lose that is a huge part of the solution. So, to have a NOAH is very important in starting to address the housing crisis that we have."
It's a notion Olmsted County Board Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden agrees with. During the ceremony she said, "We know that the most affordable housing is already built and one of the things we most need to do is preserve the housing that we have so that we keep it affordable for the residents of our communities."
Everyone that was renting before First Homes purchased the property can continue renting and the non-profit says there are also a few open apartments still available for low-income individuals or families.
Wood added, "We'll be looking to rent those as soon as possible. All the residents that are here, this was the reason we purchased it so that they will have a place to stay and we look forward to welcoming new individuals and families to be part of the great community here."
The total purchase price for the complex was $3 million. It's being paid for in part by grants and a mortgage through Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.