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Duplexes for the homeless proposed in Faribault, if the state provides most of the funding

By KRISTINE GOODRICH, Faribault Daily News
Aug 15, 2023

Community Action Center is looking to build duplexes in Faribault as emergency housing. The nonprofit plans to apply for a state grant that would cover much of the cost, but local partners would need to chip in 10% in financial or in-kind contributions.

The Faribault Housing and Redevelopment Authority Monday night approved a resolution of support, without making any firm financial commitment. The Faribault City Council was scheduled to discuss the idea Tuesday night, after which a resolution of support could be placed on the Aug. 22 council agenda.

City staff has identified two sites the city or HRA could donate for the duplexes, which would serve as short-term housing for homeless individuals and families.

A prospective site is one of the two open city-owned lots on the southeast intersection of First Avenue NW and First Street NW, adjacent to apartments. Community and Economic Development Director David Wanberg said the lots have been up for sale for two or three years with no buyers.

The other site on the northwest corner of State Avenue and Division Street was acquired by the city as part of a road project. The land was given to the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce Trust with plans to build a model for a desired affordable housing development. But that idea hasn’t materialized, and the chamber is willing to give the land back to the HRA to give to the Community Action Center (CAC), Wanberg said.

CAC leaders are also hoping for a third site donation. Wanberg said city and county officials are looking for, but have not yet identified, a third ideal site.

In addition to donating land, the city and HRA could give other financial support, such as waiving building permit fees, to get to the 10% support threshold required by the state.

The HRA members weren’t ready Monday to commit to any set form of support, but they unanimously approved a resolution supporting CAC’s grant application and stating the HRA “intends to contribute to CAC’s emergency housing efforts.”

CAC Grants Manager Paul Gleason said there is a “really good chance” of receiving at least some funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ pool of $98 million for emergency shelters.

Gleason estimated the total cost for three duplexes, or potentially two duplexes and one triplex, would run between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Faribault currently does not have any form of emergency housing. The HRA has been helping fund hotel room vouchers being given out by police officers.

Instead of a single shelter, Gleason and CAC Faribault Community Resource Manager Becky Ford said their organization believes smaller housing sites scattered across the community is a better model.

“Knowing that we have families and children, not just single men, who need a place to land and some time to be able to look at long-term housing solutions, we’re coming to you seeking support for our emergency housing program,” Ford said to the HRA.

Ford said a careful screening process would decide who is invited to stay in the duplexes. Stays may range for a night or two, up to 90 days. The CAC will also provide services to help the people staying in the houses find longer-term housing and other stability.

Ford noted it wouldn’t be the organization’s first emergency housing site. It recently opened Hillcrest Village in Northfield, a townhouse development that has a combination of emergency shelter, transitional and market-rate units.

“CAC has a long history of helping people with housing, just not here in Faribault,” Ford said. “So when this Department of Human Services grant opportunity came up, we were pretty excited, as this might be that opportunity to actually build some infrastructure in our city to support those folks who find themselves out on the street.”

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