City, Jobs addressing housing needs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 1999

A new task force is now addressing the area’s housing shortage.

Wednesday, April 07, 1999

A new task force is now addressing the area’s housing shortage.

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Formed by Greater Jobs Inc., the task force is exploring possible ways to attract new home construction to the county. The shortage crosses all incomes, but the more pressing need is in the $60,000 to $90,000 low income housing bracket.

&uot;We’re exploring what needs to be done,&uot; said Pam Bishop, Greater Jobs Inc. vise president. &uot;We’re suggesting goals and time frames. We’re trying to find what we can do to help the process along.&uot;

Bishop said the committee plans to tour other towns that are successfully attracting housing.

One possibility is collaborating with the school district and Riverland Community College to have students build new lower income homes. That’s now working in Garner Iowa – the city teamed with its school district, where students build one home a year.

&uot;Riverland Community College is excited about the potential of collaborating with the high school to build new homes,&uot; she said.

She also contacted International Building Concepts, an Anoka based company, about building homes in the lower income bracket.

&uot;This company has been around about five or six years,&uot; she said. &uot;They actually build homes out of insulated panel pieces. They can build them quicker at a reduced cost.&uot;

The company is considering building lower income spec homes in Albert Lea, she said.

Renovating older homes is also a local need, but buyers don’t often have the financial resources, she said.

&uot;We’re trying to find grant money,&uot; she said. That’s certainly another issue.

Albert Lea City Planner Bob Graham said the city is also addressing the housing shortage.

&uot;There’s between 60 to 70 family homes in Albert Lea on the market,&uot; he said. &uot;But many of the existing homes need updating, for example, new bathrooms, kitchens, windows replacing insulation and concrete work.&uot;

The city, Graham said is continuing to expand outward because of a shortage of available building lots. Once more new homes are available, other homes in the city will go on the market as people move to newer homes, he added.

There’s two new housing subdivisions west of Highway 13 with 44 new lots. Two large subdivisions are also planned near the city’s golf courses.

The city recently sold the last remaining lots in two subdivisions near Bridge Avenue. These were forfeited to the city when developer couldn’t meet tax obligations.

Townhomes are also planned west of the Highway 13 just south of Bayview Funeral Home. Townhomes are also under construction near Frank Hall Drive.

Within the city, a small moderate subdivision is under construction near the airport.

&uot;There are homes in most price ranges within the city, but the supply is limited,&uot; he said.

One planned area for single family residential homes is a 163 acre city-owned farm west of Highway 69 at Ninth Street.

Other long range plans include 3,320 housing units around Albert Lea. If constructed, these home can include a population of 7,304, according to a 1996 community development report.