Housing study in the works

FAIRMONT – It’s been a decade since a housing study has been done in Fairmont, something the local Housing and Redevelopment Authority has decided is long enough.

The last study was conducted in 2003, and before then it was 1996. The housing authority has hired Community Partners Research to do the job. The cost is $13,900, to be split with Fairmont Economic Development Authority.

Faribault-based Community Partners will research local demographic and housing data; the market area; employment and economic trends; and agencies and resources that are addressing local housing needs.

After gathering the data, specific recommendations will be provided for Fairmont. Typically included are recommendations for rental housing; subdivision and lot development; owner-occupied housing; and rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization.

Past housing studies have played a role in the city’s success in applying for grants to fix up properties, according to Mike Humpal, Fairmont city administrator. The studies also have proven beneficial, he said, when working with housing developers.

The local housing authority has had several discussions about Fairmont’s housing needs and how to better meet them. Considering its goal to provide affordable housing, HRA chairman Ron Kopischke said, “It’s absolutely critical we get this information.”

City Councilman Terry Anderson is a liaison to the HRA, and he questioned how beneficial the study will actually be. He brought up the state demographer’s recent statement that Fairmont is not growing.

Ruth Lewis-Clover, HRA housing manager, said the study is helpful for seeking more funding. Kopischke pointed out that employers need the information when they are seeking to relocate or expand, since the study helps them when they are figuring out if there is housing their employees will be able to afford.

The study will not guarantee growth, Humpal said, but it is an important development tool.

Anderson said his questions were addressed.