rose dunn

Rose Dunn, executive director of the Mora HRA, examines the results of a recent housing study while overlooking plans for Mysa House.

Construction of a new, 24-unit building at the Eastwood Senior Campus in Mora is expected to begin this spring and will offer independent living while giving seniors the option of purchasing home and health services “ala carte” as their needs change.

The facility is called “Mysa House.” The word “Mysa” (pronounced “MEE-sah”) is Swedish but doesn’t have a literal translation in English. Best described, it is a word that portrays the act of being comfortable, cozy, content and relaxed.

The Mora Housing and Redevelopment Authority was awarded funding by MN Housing for construction with a total cost of approximately $4,360,000. Units will have 1-2 bedrooms and serve seniors with incomes up to approximately $26,820-$34,500.

Mysa House will be built on the Eastwood Campus on Valhalla Circle near the HRA’s other senior facilities Vasa House and the Eastwood Senior Living Community and Life Enrichment Center.

According to the Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for the city of Mora completed in 2014, affordable senior housing is the housing type with the highest local demand. The study projected the need for an additional 70 units through 2025.

“Filling (Mysa House) will not be a problem at all,” said Rose Dunn, executive director of the Mora HRA.

According to the Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for the city of Mora completed in 2014, vacancy rates for affordable/subsidized senior housing in Mora is 0 percent and waiting lists for units are in the hundreds.

The vacancy rate of an area is the percentage of rental units that are unoccupied at a time. A 5 percent vacancy rate is the industry standard. This optimal rate means there are not too many empty rentals but just enough for prices to remain competitive while allowing for unit turnover and adequate choice for renters.

“If you get under 5 percent vacancy people don’t get choices or options that they need,” explained Dunn.

The Eastwood senior campus already offers 22 units of income based independent senior apartments at Vasa House, 20 units of assisted living and 10 memory care units at Eastwood Senior Living.

Construction on Mysa House expected to begin in spring of 2017 and open in the spring of 2018.

Funding for Mysa House was part of $80 million granted by the state of Minnesota in October to create and preserve 1,831 affordable housing units throughout the state.

According to a press release from the office of Governor Mark Dayton, between 2000 and 2015, the number of Minnesota households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing increased 63 percent, from 350,000 to 570,000.

“The housing built and preserved with these resources is a smart investment in Minnesota’s future and will be an important foundation for success for kids, families and workers across Minnesota,” said Mary Tingerthal, Minnesota housing commissioner. “We are battling housing costs that are rising faster than incomes. We must continue our commitment to provide more Minnesotans with access to affordable homes in communities of their choice.”

Dunn said it is essential for rural areas like Mora to receive state funding for affordable senior housing. She said if the task were left to private developers to build and charge the market rate, rents would become unaffordable for our area.

More information about the work of the Mora HRA can be found at www.MoraHRA.org.

Kirsten Faurie is the editor of the Kanabec County Times.