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Housing officials to lead discussion in Worthington

WORTHINGTON — Last December, Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal visited Worthington to discuss this community’s housing shortage.

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On Wednesday, she’ll return for a day-long discussion to continue to find solutions to the housing issue in southwest Minnesota.

“We are holding what we’ve billed as a housing and community dialogue for southwestern Minnesota,” Tingerthal said. “It’s a little broader of scope in terms of geography than last time. We’re holding it in Worthington in recognition of the fact that Worthington has certainly articulated the shortage of housing as being a key community need.”

Interested participants in the discussion can register by going to and clicking the “Register Now” link under special announcements and upcoming events.

“Over the last year, we’ve really worked to develop this format that we call a dialogue where Margaret Kaplan, who is our Community Development Director, reaches out several months in advance of wanting to have a regional discussion and really works with people in the community to decide what are the topics that should be on the agenda,” Tingerthal said. “The topics that will be discussed at this meeting might be quite different than the ones we discussed at a similar dialogue in the Brainerd Lakes area.”

The event begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Worthington Country Club. From 8 to 11 a.m., the discussion will focus on lender and real estate professional training. That includes a brief overview of new programs and products from Minnesota Housing from 8 to 9. From 9 to 11, the focus will be on rural development, single-family, guaranteed housing lender training.

At 11, Tingerthal, Warren Hanson from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and Colleen Landkamer from USDA Rural Development will talk about housing trends and local perspectives on housing needs.

In the afternoon, topics will range from workforce housing to single family rehabilitation to creating homeownership opportunities. The day concludes with a reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

“My thought about it is that anybody who is interested in housing and community issues will find something valuable in the discussion,” Kaplan said. “The greater diversity we have of stakeholders, the more creativity you have in the room.

“Certainly having those employers is going to be critical, because we hear that lack of housing is a barrier for economic development,” she continued. “Having local community leaders in the room is going to be important because the strength of communities is having folks living there who are working, who have their kids in school. Having folks from the school is going to be important — social service agencies, communities of faith and just average citizens who care about the future of their communities. I think it’s going to be a good discussion.”

Tingerthal explained there are some state incentives available. However, it’s a competitive process, meaning communities who come together to address the issues have a better chance to receive the aid.

“The governor did come out in his legislative package with his jobs and housing initiative, and we were successful with his leadership and a great embracing of it with legislators, as well of this $10 million housing and job growth initiative,” she said. “It really was because of dialogues in places like Worthington and Roseau that we’re able to bring some new resources to the table. Being there, hearing your employers, hearing your Chamber of Commerce as well as your public officials talk about just what a negative impact it is to not have the housing resources available (is beneficial).

It’s going to be the ideas brought forward from the local communities that’s going to make the necessary changes, Tingerthal said.

“Our real goal is to have the leadership in these communities really understand that they need to come to the table with their ideas,” she said. “The way that manifests itself is all of the resources we have at Minnesota Housing are awarded on a competitive basis. This housing and job growth initiative is no exception.

“It’s going to be those communities that really roll up their sleeves and get developers and employers and local funders to the table together to really bring their strongest game into the competitive funding cycle.”

While the event will be in Worthington, it’s a dialogue for the entire region.

“I think it’s going to be really good,” Kaplan said. “People are going to learn a lot. They are going to learn a lot about what’s working in various parts of the state.”

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.