The Olmsted County Board was briefed Tuesday on a report dealing with the need for affordable housing and spent considerable time discussing what to do about it.

The report was put together by the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, which works with cities and counties around the state in developing strategies to deal with affordable housing issues. The report shows the affordable rental property vacancy rate in the county is only 1-percent for workforce and senior housing residents.

The report suggests a goal of 1500 new homes and the rehabilitation of 540 existing houses over the next 6 years to meet the county’s affordable housing needs.To help pay for the various projects that would meet the goals, the County Board is being asked to consider using a new property tax levy. It could raise $12.6 million over a six year period. That money would also leverage additional funds from private and public sources.

Commissioners Matt Flynn and Jim Bier spoke against the new levy. Both agreed something needs to be done about the affordable housing problem but would prefer funding for the projects be included in the general budget and property tax levy.

Although nothing was decided at Tuesday's meeting, the board is expected to revisit the issue soon. Board chair Paul Wilson says a decision on the funding mechanism will also have to be decided soon, if the county wants to start some housing programs next year.