Housing crunch hurts

To the Editor:

In an effort to ease the workforce housing crunch that exists in southwestern Minnesota, I am authoring legislation that would benefit communities and workers who need a place to live.

One of the top complaints I hear from manufacturing companies is the lack of affordable housing that’s available for their workforce. Not everyone can afford to buy or build a home when they move to town, and low housing availability is one of the reasons large employers are having difficulties attracting workers to our communities. We need to find ways to address the housing availability issue.

My bill would allow a city to create an economic development Tax Increment Financing district, and the increment revenue would be used to build workforce housing.

The district would be located outside of the seven-county metro area and could only be utilized by cities having more than 1,500 residents.

Participating communities would need to show that the rental housing vacancy rate in the city, or within 15 miles of it, is at less than 5 percent over the last two years, and at least one business in the city or within 15 miles has provided a written statement saying the lack of rental housing is harming its ability to hire.

The proposal has no cost implications to the state. It gives our rural cities the chance to invest in their future and provide needed affordable housing for incoming workers.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,