- Created: Wednesday, 03 October 2018 08:42
- Written by Laura Proescholdt
Leaders ‘ECHO’ the need for affordable housing
Located between Duluth and the Twin Cities — and within two hours of 80% of Minnesota’s population — it’s no surprise that the East Central region is one of the fastest growing in the state.
But in 2015, a regional housing study made clear what some local leaders and community members already sensed — the region’s lack of affordable housing development loomed as a major threat to the region’s growth.
Photo: Cost of living data from MN DEED and a summary of key takeaways from a Chisago County housing study completed this summer
During Round 4 of MHP’s Housing Institute, housing leaders in the region banded together to address the yawning gap between affordable homes and the people who need them — teachers, bus drivers, cashiers, kids, grandparents and more. They named themselves the East Central Housing Organization (ECHO) and began convening monthly meetings with city, county and housing development staff to strategize around the region’s housing needs and jumpstart development.
“ECHO exists to notify city and county leaders that housing is an issue,” explains Cherre’ Palenius, MHP Community Development Manager and a key adviser to ECHO. “When we first started, nobody was talking about housing. Now, everybody is.”