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Questions for the candidates: What should be the county’s housing priority?

September 30, 2018
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John Helmers

Olmsted County commissioners make up the majority of the county’s Housing and Redevelopment board, which collects a levy for housing programs.

The two candidates for the county board’s Fourth District seat were asked what they see as the HRA’s top housing priority and how it should be addressed.

Here are their replies:

John Helmers

The HRA’s top priority should be to construct housing, through partnerships with private and public entities, which integrates low- and middle-income homes with market rate apartments and condos. Simultaneously, the HRA needs to invest wisely in effective management of its current properties and consider repurposing rather than demolishing existing buildings.

The shortage of construction workers and rising costs of development and materials prevents the private market from fully responding to this critical need for housing. The HRA needs to engage proactively to help every person have a safe, adequate place to live — especially those in single-income households. By fully supporting the HRA, we are making a wise investment that will provide a many-fold return for our communities.

Matt Flynn

I’d like the funds to go for our vulnerable population that needs housing, obviously for handicapped and mentally challenged people. That’s my first priority, housing for them.

As a board, and personally, I think we want to see what kind of funds we can match with state funding to build some things and if that works maybe also help pay some rent. A combination of both is where I think our funding should be focused.

There are pots of money with state government, and we will see how we can match up with that and put something together. I’m sure other people are thinking the same idea, but we will look at that to provide some of the needed housing.

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