The Rochester Area First Homes Program is the state’s largest employer-assisted housing effort.
With extremely low vacancy rates and rapidly rising home prices, the Rochester area housing market had become unaffordable to many local workers. First Homes, developed as a joint effort of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Rochester Area Foundation, sought to build at least 500 single-family homes and 275 affordable rental units in Rochester and surrounding communities by 2004.
To meet this ambitious goal, the Rochester Area Foundation raised over $13 million from local employers to support the project. The Mayo Clinic, which employs more than 18,000 people in the area, contributed over $4 million and pledged an additional $3 million in matching funds. The project met its fundraising goal with contributions from more than 100 local businesses.
Employer funds, combined with state, local, and GMHF resources, are used to provide secondary financing for affordable rental projects. Funds are also used to assist homebuyers, who can receive up to $30,000 of assistance from the First Homes Community Land Trust or up to $15,000 of secondary financing from First Homes.
GMHF has provided significant technical assistance and financial resources to the initiative, with construction and permanent financing totaling more than $4.3 million by the end of 2012.