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Demand may be rebounding for new homes in Perham

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news Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

New home construction in Perham has fluctuated in the wake of the national housing market crash.

After a slump during the recent recession, city officials say there is still a demand for new housing units - though the numbers are not as great as they once were.

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So far this year, there have been eight new home construction permits issued in the city of Perham.

This is up from the city's low of four permits in 2010, but still quite a bit lower than its peak of 21 in 2006 (right before the bubble burst).

At the height of the recession, in 2007-2008, the city issued seven permits.

Overall, "Perham did not feel a drastic effect from the recession," said the city's Building Official, Dave Neisen. "We're still growing. There are still more and more jobs being created, which dictates and mandates the demand for housing."

Many of the new homes going up are located in either the Clearwater addition (near the new hospital), or in the Westwind additions (near Arvig Park).

Neisen said a goal of the city is to offer affordable housing. He's been working since 2001 with the city, the Housing Redevelopment Authority and some major employers in town to offer more affordable housing options.

"Perham is very unique," he said, "in that the employers in the community have supported the efforts of the HRA and... every one of the major employers is assisting in some facet to provide down payment assistance and those types of things."

Perham's Employer Assisted Housing Program provides gap financing packages of up to $14,500 for employees of participating businesses who want to build or purchase a home within city limits.

Housing is such a "spotlight item" in this community, Neisen said, "because if you can get employees living here in the community, it helps the overall economic picture - the schools, the business environment, and the work stability of the employees."

KLN Family Brands, for example, provides housing incentives for its employees. Neisen said about half of the company's current employees commute to and from work, usually from neighboring communities like Detroit Lakes and Wadena. The company is the largest employer in Perham.

The city itself also takes steps to support affordable housing efforts, offering incentives like free water for one year to owners of a newly-built home, as well as tax incentives like Tax Increment Financing.

TIF districts, Neisen explained, "are a very valuable asset" for qualifying homeowners. Through the use of TIF, the costs of special assessments for sewer, water and street improvements are reduced for those who qualify.

Localized efforts to bring more affordable housing to town, Neisen said, will continue in the future.

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