The Moose Lake School Board passed a motion unanimously to sell five acres of land on the school district property south of the ALCO store to the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, at a special meeting of the board on Monday, April 29. The land sale is contingent on the partnership being awarded a grant from the federal government. Word about approval of the grant was expected in September.
Deanna Hemmesch, Executive Director of Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, Inc., met with the board to answer questions and provide additional information.
“There will be 36 units of townhomes for workforce housing,” Hemmesch told the board. “The two-bedroom units will be available to rent for about $625 a month, and the three-bedroom units will be available around $725 a month. We will do a market study to find out if the rents are suitable for this area.”
Hemmesch went on to explain that income guidelines are $25,920 in annual income for renting the two-bedroom units and $37,020 for renting the three-bedroom units.
“We rent to family units,” she added. “When we place a household, we want enough people to fill the two-bedroom unit first before we would rent to single people. We will market the units to people that live in the city first and then in the county.”
She also explained that units could be rented to retired people but that they must have two and a half times the income of the rent to qualify. The end units on the townhomes are handicap accessible and are preferred by some retired couples.
Attached garages are available for some of the units.
Several board members were concerned that adequate housing was available for employees of the DOC (prison) and the MSOP (sex offender program).
“We have people that get jobs and make too much income,” said board member Julie Peterson. “We want them to stay.”
Hemmesch said that she has never worked with a mixed income townhome complex but would check into it.
Carlton County Economic Development Director Pat Oman explained that Moose Lake was the only site that the housing partnership could consider for the project. The county and city need to meet 80 points in requirements, and mixed income housing would not qualify.
“There is a need,” he added. “We surveyed the county, and we couldn’t find a vacancy in rental units. Right now, there are no vacancies in town. There is a need for rental units for higher income people too. Multi-family development is in the city’s strategic plan.”
Oman said that the city will have to pass a resolution to approve the partnership’s proposal in May.
Superintendent Robert Indihar said that he had called officials in other communities where the housing partnership has the townhome units.
“All said that they were quality projects,” he explained. “They have on-site management that lives in one of the units. A playground is part of the project. They were more than happy with the projects.”
Supt. Indihar added that the school’s biggest concern is that families with young children live in the townhomes.
Hemmesch explained that 95 percent of the renters are young families, and a lot of the renters are single mothers.
“The caretakers get a unit rent free,” she added. “We watch them. We have annual inspections and go to each property three times a year.”
If the federal grant is approved, the school district will sell the land to the housing partnership late this year, and construction on the townhomes would begin in the 2014 construction season.
The board agreed to call for applications for a high school principal.
The current high school principal, Billie Jo Steen, was hired for an interim position of a year. She may apply for the position, along with others.
Her previous position, that of counselor, is also open, and applications are being accepted.
The board also passed a motion to add a full day on June 5 to replace the snow day, when school was cancelled on April 19. The day will be for teaching staff only, it is not a student day.
The next meeting of the board was set for Monday, May 20, at 6 p.m.