During the Worthington City Council meeting Monday night, the members were presented with an opportunity.
That opportunity was to loan $600,000 to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership to help build a 36-unit apartment complex in Worthington.
And the council jumped at the chance to help.
Whether the council was right or not do to that is not for me to decide.
But here’s what I do know, housing is a HUGE need in Worthington.
They have done study upon study upon study. And they all say the same thing. And after every study, there is talk about building more multi-family buildings in town.
And each time, nothing happens.
Now, someone is stepping up and making things happen.
I applaud that effort.
The HRA and SWMHP are working with Highland Manufacturing to build six buildings of six units each. There will be a mix of two and three bedrooms. The rent will be a little expensive, but they can be affordable.
On Monday, the talk wasn’t whether or not to grant the loan, but how much the council could give.
Due to some regulations, the members couldn’t give as much as they wanted — proposed up to $1 million — but they were able to help. They approved a loan for $600,000 to $800,000 for the project. That money will help fill a gap in the financing of the project.
The one concern that was brought up was if this would hinder the ability to work on other projects. Since the money is coming from the hospital sale funds, that means the city will have that much less in the bank. While there is close to $10 million still remaining in those funds, the council will still have plenty of reserves.
The other concern was if having less cash on hand would hurt the city’s bond rating. Currently, Worthington has a pretty high bond rating.
As Mayor Alan Oberloh said, he felt the people who decided the rating would look favorably upon partnership in a project like that.
And then he said something that made the most sense.
“Cash in the bank doesn’t grow your community.”
And while having money in the bank can be a good thing, I know you can’t be scared to spend some as well.
In this case, something has to be done.
Worthington needs housing. It’s a desperate situation.
And if the city can support this project and earn a little interest money, then it would be hard to say this is a bad deal.
But as a young professional in Worthington, I am pleased the city sees the value in investing in housing.