The city of Perham, in conjunction with the city of New York Mills, has been awarded a grant to conduct a comprehensive regional housing study.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership announced the award last week – a 50/50 matching grant that will cover half the cost of conducting the study, up to $10,000.

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Of the remaining half to be covered by the cities, Perham has agreed to pay 60 percent, while New York Mills will pay 40.

In a congratulatory letter, the housing partnership’s Loan and Grant Committee said it appreciated Perham and New York Mills’ joint effort “to include both cities in a regional study,” and wanted to support their attempt “to better understand the affordable housing needs of the region to better inform future housing planning and decision-making.”

City Manager Kelcey Klemm previously told the Focus that the housing study will take a close look at the community’s housing needs, detailing how many senior units are needed, how many family apartments are needed, how many affordable homes, and so on.

Once developers see those hard numbers, he explained, it’s easier for them to cater to the town’s needs and feel assured of seeing a return on their investment. In addition, lenders feel more confident backing projects that have a documented need.

The study may also lead to further grant awards for developments down the road.

At a city council meeting Monday, Klemm said two proposals had already been submitted by consultants willing to do the study.

One of the proposals was for about $19,000, the other for about $15,000: that would make Perham’s portion of the total bill no more than $6,000.

Councilors agreed to allocate up to $3,000 out of the city’s gas fund to the housing study, and will be asking the Perham Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to chip in up to another $3,000.  They indicated no strong preference for one proposal over the other, and suggested that the HRA look them both over closely and opt for the one that would be most beneficial.

Perham’s last housing study was done in 2007, and is due for an update.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council:

-Signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Barrel O’ Fun for the sale of the city’s Public Works facility. If the city cannot find a suitable property on which to build a new facility, or if other contingencies are not met, the agreement will become null and void. The property is set to be sold for $950,000.

-Tabled a decision on renewing its lease for the Senior Center. The city is currently exploring the possibility of moving the center to an undisclosed location. It is currently housed in the same building as Ma’s Little Red Barn. The lessees, Mark and Barb Lenius, have agreed to extend the lease for one month while the city considers its options. The matter will be brought back to the council at its March meeting.