Springfield City Manager testifies for the legislation
Senator Gary Dahms presents Workforce Housing Bill before Senate Committee
On Monday, February 23, State Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) presented his Workforce Housing bill, Senate File 816, to the Senate Jobs, Agriculture, and Rural Development Committee. The legislation is a result of Senator Dahms’ visits with employers from various industries in rural Minnesota. Many employers have trouble finding employees, and when employees are found, housing is difficult to come by.
“My bill helps address the workforce housing crisis in our area,” said Senator Dahms. “It allows cities of over 500 population with rental housing vacancies of less than 5% over the last two years to be eligible for grants to develop housing.”
City of Springfield Man-ager Matt Skaret was invited to testify before the committee and he asked the committee to pass the bill. “There is a critical shortage of workforce market rate housing statewide,” Skaret said. “My community of Springfield is no exception. As city manager of this community of approximately 2,200 people located in western Brown County, I can attest first hand of the problem on a personal and professional level. Prior to beginning my duties on August 29 of this past year, I did not have to spend much time looking at housing options: not because I found a place right away but rather because there wasn’t much to look at.
“We all want our communities to grow and expand our tax base, but they cannot without adequate housing. When people call the office asking about rental options, it pains me greatly to have to turn people away who would like to move to Springfield but cannot because there is no housing available.
He concluded, “From what I have seen it often takes a conglomeration of funding streams to turn market rate housing projects into reality. Cities have few tools to help encourage the construction of market rate housing. S.F. 816 would provide cities like Springfield a tool to help turn these projects into reality. While the bill is not the ‘end all be all,’ it is a step in the right direction, and I urge its passage.”
The bill also includes credits for contributions to land trusts and an appropriation for grants under a workforce housing grant pilot program. Patrick Hynes from the League of Minnesota Cities also testified in support of the bill. Committee members passed the bill and sent it to the Senate Finance Committee where it awaits more hearings.