HRA looking at housing needs in Stearns County

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 12/1/98.

A study ordered by Stearns County Housing and Redevelopment Authority showed the countyís economy is growing steadily with few variations.

A public meeting was held Monday, Nov. 23, at the Paynesville City Hall to review local housing needs. Robert Swanberg, Stearns County HRA executive director, said the study just provides growth estimates and estimated housing needs to communities.

ďI think the Paynesville area can expect more population growth than what the study showed,Ē Dennis Wilde, city administrator, said. ďWith the four lanes planned from Waite Park to Richmond, it will make St. Cloud easier to reach. Paynesville is already an attractive area with our lakes and wooded terrain. With the accessibility of a four-lane highway, the areaís population will see a bigger jump within the next 10 years.Ē

The Stearns County study was divided into 14 geo-graphic areas: Albany, Avon, Belgrade-Brooten, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, Freeport, Holdingford, Kimball, Melrose, Paynesville, Richmond, Rockville, Sauk Centre, and St. Stephen.

ďThe Paynesville study area covered the Paynesville Area School District which includes a three-county area,Ē Wilde added.

According to the report, most of the housing in Stearns County is privately owned and constructed with private funds. On an increasing scale, however, the public is demanding that public officials control what happens in this largely private housing market.

Information to compile the study was taken from 14 different sources. They included the 1980 and 1990 census, city and county records, bankers and realtors.

The study showed Paynesvilleís main industry is services followed by agri-culture. The Paynesville Area Health Care System and Paynesville Area School District are the largest employers with all of them showing growth.

None of the interviewed employers were experiencing downsizing and some employers were noted as saying more moderate income housing was needed for their employees.

Population statistics for the Paynesville study area indicated a growth rate of one percent or 59 people between 1990 and 1998. The population is estimated to continue at this rate with an increase of 52 people (.8 percent) from 1998 to 2003.

Households are also expected to increase in the Paynesville study area but at a slightly faster rate. Households increased by 76, or 3.5 percent from 1990 to 1998 and are expected to increase by another 52 or 2.3 percent by 2003 for a total of 2313 households.

Paynesville has 131 market rate rental units and 36 subsidized units. There are 10 vacancies in the market rate units and only one in the subsidized units. Some vacancies are due to the fact that one building has new owners.

To the east of Paynesville is Richmond. The report showed Richmond is positioned as a bedroom community to Cold Spring. Richmondís main industry is wholesale and retail trade. Most of the employers interviewed for the Richmond study said they were experiencing stable business growth and consider the economic climate to be in good condition.

Population statistics for the Richmond study area indicate a growth rate of 9.7 percent or 216 people between 1990 and 1998. The population is estimated to continue to grow with an increase of 3.8 percent of 92 people from 1998 to 2003.

Households are also expected to increase but at a slighly faster rate. Households increased by 103 or 13.3 percent from 1990 to 1998 and are expected to increase by another 54 or 6.1 percent by 2003.

Heading west from Paynesville is Belgrade-Brooten area. The report showed the main industries in the Belgrade-Brooten area are agriculture and services. Most of the major employers are in Belgrade with most of them experiencing growth.

Population statistics for the Belgrade-Brooten area indicate an overall decline rate of 6.8 percent between 1990 and 2003. The population is estimated to have decreased by 4.2 percent or 123 people from 1990 to 1998 and is expected to decrease further by 2003.

Households in the Belgrade-Brooten area, on the other hand, are expected to decrease only slightly, .9 percent, between 1990 and 1998 and .07 by 2003.

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