Rice County Looking for Affordable Housing Developer

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Rice County is now accepting proposals from developers interested in building up to six four-bedroom homes to be designated as affordable housing. 

Last week the County Board of Commissioners authorized the use of about an acre-and-a-half just north of the planned Public Safety Center for the project. 

When county officials announced they’d purchased 109 acres off of Highway 3 for the Safety Center in late 2021, they suggested part of the land could be used for housing. While several new apartment buildings have sprung up in Northfield and Faribault in the last couple of years, both cities have had trouble attracting owner-occupied residential development. Developers are generally seeing a higher profit in the metro, making few willing to invest in Rice County where housing prices are typically lower. 

Housing Director Joy Watson suggested townhomes will likely be proposed in the county’s application for state financing assistance, both she and Commissioner Steve Underdahl said they would like single-family homes as part of the development. 

Once the HRA selects a developer, Director Watson will work with human services organization Three Rivers Community Action in Zumbrota to put together a proposal to request funding from the state’s housing finance agency. A decision from the agency won’t come until December. 

The finished homes will be sold to individuals making up to 115% of the median Rice County income, or about $100,000 per year for a family of four. County Administrator Sara Folsted said covenants will ensure the homes remain affordable for the average Rice County worker even when they’re sold.   

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