Town Talk: Housing Institute

The New Ulm Economic Development Authority (EDA) is participating in Minnesota Housing Partnership’s Housing Institute #6. The Housing Institute pulls teams together from all over the state to work on housing and economic development issues in their communities. Each Housing Institute consists of three teams who meet over the course of eighteen months. The New Ulm team has four team members; Heather Bregel-New Ulm EDA Housing Coordinator, Chris Dalton-City of New Ulm Economic Development Director/Assistant City Manager, Dave Borchert-Brown County Commissioner and Dan Braam-New Ulm EDA Commissioner. The New Ulm group has been paired with another team from the Gaylord/Gibbon/Winthrop area to work together as one regional team.

Housing Institute #6 started in February 2018 with a two-day retreat with all three regional teams in attendance. The first retreat focused on getting the teams together to come up with their team name and a list of potential team projects. Monthly meetings were held locally in March and April to continue developing our projects. The second two-day retreat was held in June.

The New Ulm regional team has identified several projects to work on during the Housing Institute and beyond. Every community on our team is experiencing a housing shortage. One of the projects our team has identified is the need to develop a regional website for people who want to relocate to this area. The website will include information on area realtors and lenders for those who wish to buy a house, as well as area rental information for those who wish to rent. We will be working on the website map at our next team meeting and are creating a commercial to promote the new website. Our team mascot is Hermann the German, who will be the star of our promotional commercial, which we will be sharing on social media very soon.

Our team is also learning about the many different funding resources that are available. The New Ulm EDA has already submitted a grant application to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines to fund an owner-occupied rehab program. The EDA is also exploring self-funding additional programs, such as down payment assistance to move renters into homeownership and a rental rehab program for landlords to make improvements to area rental properties.

The next retreat will be in September, where teams will have the opportunity to meet with developers to discuss opportunities for projects in their communities. To prepare for this retreat, we are creating handouts to show developers where our community has vacant land, including the size and zoning information for each parcel.

We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the Housing Institute and have found it to be an extremely positive experience so far. We will provide another update on our progress later this fall.

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Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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