Mayor Larson lays out the work in progress to address housing shortage in Duluth

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The city of Duluth is facing a trifecta of challenges when it comes to addressing the housing needs.

Mayor Emily Larson shared this. “One is we just don’t have enough units. We just don’t literally have enough housing for people. This is what we’re seeing nationally. The second is we don’t have enough units that match what people need and want. And then the third thing we have going on is we do have people who are moving to Duluth.”

In the last seven years, she said they’ve added 1700 new units of housing. “But it’s still an urgent need,” she said.

The city has worked on initiatives like a Housing Trust Fund, adding a housing planner, and using tools like tax abatement or free land.

Since Duluth is landlocked and bordered by Lake Superior, there is a geography concern. It means looking at what’s available. Including the downtown area.

“But we now have real estate that could turn into housing. And so we are really actively studying that issue. We are working with an entity that does downtown housing studies to really help us determine where do we start, how do we activate and what is the low hanging fruit to turn some of this empty office space into housing?”

As for the homeless encampments that people have concerns about, she said, “What’s good is that people are seeing it and they’re paying attention. And I actually think a very shared human experience is we want people to be housed. So what we need to do is build enough stock to keep housing prices manageable, to invest in long term strategies that keep people feeling stable, to invest in public health and public safety services that keep people connected to the services that they need.”

According to the 2022 Housing Indicator Report, the average rent was $1311/month.

The median sale price for a single-family home was $260,000.

And rental vacancy was 3.5%.