By Brent E. Frazier, mayor
City of Pelican Rapids

A 1950 summary by the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that “the housing situation, and not unemployment, was to be the nation’s critical domestic problem.”

Is this the same situation that we are experiencing in America today?

Gone are the photos in the local newspapers of homes for sale in our communities. When a home is put on the market today, it sometimes is only days or hours before the ownership is transferred to a new homeowner.

With the current housing situation of very few homes for sale and the large number of potential buyers, the sale can suddenly break out into a “bidding war.”

When a product is scarce and in high demand, a potential buyer will sometimes pay above the asking price just to get the product. We have all witnessed prices paid at auction sales, so it can be the same scenario in the sale of a home.

When a home or parcel of land is sold for above the asking price, so then escalates the evaluation of other properties in the neighborhood.

It surely sounds like a “seller’s market,” but then again, if you sell your home, how are you going to replace it at the same cost?

Yes, over the past several years, the lack of housing has been a challenge at the national, regional, and local levels.

Every facet of housing has been in high demand; assisted living units, apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and single-family homes.

The housing challenge has affected the elderly, the middle-aged, and young families across the board.

Many of us who are reading this column have the fortune to live in Otter Tail County, which has been studying, planning, and delivering on the housing challenge.

Locally, the City of Pelican Rapids has been helping to alleviate this housing challenge in Otter Tail County.

Apartment openings have begun to meet housing needs

On October 02, 2019, groundbreaking ceremonies were held at Colony Apartments at 100 North West 6th Street in Pelican.

This 36-unit apartment complex was instrumental in being the first of 36 housing units to be built in Otter Tail County to help the Otter Tail County Community Development Agency (CDA) reach their goal of 5,000 housing units built in Otter Tail County by the year 2025 through the “The Big Build” Initiative.

But 36 housing units are not enough to settle for in Pelican as the demand continues to rise.

It should be noted that we are not only talking about apartment units, but probably more importantly, single-family homes.

Currently, the city is communicating with a developer for the construction of single-family homes on the 60-acre parcel in the northwest portion of town that is owned by the city. It is an ongoing conversation with details to be worked out before an agreement is finalized.

Housing summit in Pelican May 12 at Lake Region

On Thursday, May 12, a Pelican Rapids Housing Summit will be held at Lake Region Electric Cooperative at 1401 South Broadway in Pelican Rapids from 4-8 p.m.

Invited are: the planning commission, city council, employers, housing developers, contractors, lenders, community members, and all stakeholders impacted by the housing challenge and involved in housing development.

For meeting planning purposes, attendees are asked to RSVP to Amy Baldwin at abaldwin@co.ottertail.mn.us.

This will be an opportunity for all to learn about the current housing challenges and housing accomplishments thus far in Otter Tail County and our immediate area. It will also be a time to learn about opportunities, resources, and incentives available to meet the housing challenge head-on. Interested parties will have the chance to “brainstorm” with each other on the “fix” for our housing challenge.

We trust that at the end of the Pelican Housing Summit, we can all disperse from the session in a high-energy mode with much enthusiasm knowing that we all can do our part to overcome the housing challenge in Otter Tail County and in Pelican Rapids.

Hope to see you there!