Center Street Village Apartments

The Center Street Village Apartments Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist /

First Homes is planning to purchase Center Street Village apartments to help preserve naturally occurring affordable housing in Rochester. 

A subsidiary of Rochester Area Foundation, First Homes is conducting due diligence after signing an agreement to purchase the apartment complex at 626 E. Center St.

“For 20 years, First Homes’ vision has been to provide opportunities for low- and moderate-income families to secure housing in the Rochester area that is decent and affordable. We are making every effort to realize that vision by preserving an important affordable rental option in Rochester,” said Jennifer Woodford, president of Rochester Area Foundation and First Homes, in a statement announcing the planned purchase. “When we have safe, secure places to live, kids do better in school, health and well-being improve, communities prosper, and we all thrive.”

Center Street Apartments contains 36, two-bedroom units near downtown Rochester and currently has rents that are affordable for people earning less than 50 percent of area median income. 

Last year, the Governor’s Task Force on Housing released comprehensive findings and recommendations for housing priorities in our state. One of the top solutions identified is to preserve the affordability of the homes currently in communities. Naturally occurring affordable housing units are residential properties that are affordable, but not subsidized by any federal program. Rent payments are low compared to the area housing market.

Naturally occurring affordable housing is the most common form of affordable housing in the United States, and Rochester has lost some of the low-cost housing stock in recent years amid redevelopment efforts.

First Homes is working with community partners, including the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing, Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, and local donors, to pursue the Center Street Village purchase.

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