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home : news : news July 27, 2015

1/14/2014 12:30:00 PM
Housing alternatives are needed In Dodge Center
Jay Thompson of Viewpoint Consulting Group explains the housing study he will do.
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Jay Thompson of Viewpoint Consulting Group explains the housing study he will do.

By Melanie Dobson

Amy Van Raam spoke to Dodge Center Chamber members last Thursday and provided four scenarios asking who would be eligible for public housing. The exercise clearly showed that Dodge Center needs other housing options.

She explained she has had to turn down numerous applicants because they did not meet the criteria set by the Public Housing Authority (PHA). Van Raam is the Executive Director at Heritage Estate, an apartment complex that provides subsidized housing.

In 1980 the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board was created to address the housing needs in Dodge Center. Funding to help build the Heritage complex was secured from HUD, a federal housing program. Heritage Estate operates with rental revenue and HUD subsidies. The subsidies have decreased in recent years.

The HRA board has been discussing the need for additional housing. "We can't serve everyone," Van Raam said. "Crossroads (income based town homes just off of Hwy 56) is full and usually has a long waiting list."

The goal of the HRA was to create another funding source, the Dodge Center Community Development Inc. was established, and a grant was secured to do a housing study for the city.

Amy introduced Jay Thompson from Viewpoint Consulting Group, who will be conducting the comprehensive housing study for Dodge Center. Thompson said he will talk to a variety of people in the community, business owners and employers, mostly by phone.

In February he will come look around town and check out the condition of homes.

In March he will give a report. The report will contain recommendations, demographics and projections.

According to his website, "Viewpoint Consulting Group offers comprehensive housing needs assessments to provide government agencies with calculations of future housing needs and provide specific recommendations on developments appropriate to meet these needs.

"Comprehensive housing needs assessments are multipurpose and can be used as planning aids, to solicit interest from private developers, and to obtain funding for specific developments. Government clients include municipalities, counties, housing and redevelopment authorities, and community development agencies."

The clincher in Amy Van Raam scenarios was a guy named David. David is 32 and divorced; employed at $12.98/hour ($1,575 monthly net income); $0 savings and no criminal record. Once his expenses are figured for rent, electricity, car insurance, car payment, medical insurance and child support he is left with $24. He is eligible but HUD does not recognize the $400 paid in child support as an expense, therefore his rent would be at the cap rate for Heritage

"David is the reason why Dodge Center needs another housing option," Van Raam said.

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