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Published August 22, 2012, 10:49 PM

New "Blue Ribbon" Housing Commision Members Announced

Members for 'The Blue Ribbon Commission' were announced this evening. The commission is a promise by Mayor Michael Brown to address the housing issue in Grand Forks and develop a way for everyone to afford to live in town.

Members for 'The Blue Ribbon Commission' were announced this evening. The commission is a promise by Mayor Michael Brown to address the housing issue in Grand Forks and develop a way for everyone to afford to live in town.

A housing study was presented to the City Council a little over a month ago. And in the past weeks officials have smoothed over the results and selected community leaders to come together and crack down on the housing shortage in the Northern Valley.

A housing study released last month reports Grand Forks is growing by 0.7% each year, and the 20 community leaders headed by councilman Dana Sande and Michael Bergeron are responsible for finding a solution.

Brown: "We have a broad, diverse group representing the interests of the community, especially as we move forward."

The commission will break the project down into 3 phases each taking about a month. The first phase will consist of taking an accurate snapshot of housing in the community, which leaders say is still in recovery mode.

Brown: "The flood did have a devastating affect on our entry level housing and we're still recovering and it may take 20-30 years to recover, so how do we recover more quickly?"

Second, the commission will develop housing priorities like low income housing and housing for students.

Brown: "That's going to be very high on the list."

Dana Sande, Commission Co-Chair: "That will be one of the hottest topics unfortunately moderate to low income housing is a very difficult issue simply because there are restraints for construction, cost of materials is certainly not going down, it continues to go up."

Third will be deciding how to change current policy to facilitate the growth of housing.

Brown: "How do we change policy or rules in the city that are hindering that if we have any?"

The commission will come up with three topics it wants to address as a community, co-chair Dana Sande, says the commission is determined to fix the problem.

Sande: "Whether the end result is the city goes to the legislature asking for help with infrastructure or changing of rules or changing of processes in town in Grand Forks that make it easier for developers to build."

The commission is represented by realtors, developers, taxpayers, renters, the grand forks school superintendent and many others.

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