To the editor: 

In response to a recently published letter to the editor, I am writing to say that I think Mayo Clinic Health System is pathing in the best interest of the community by working to build affordable housing units.

As someone who has quite literally grown up in the neighborhood surrounding the "old hospital," both throughout my childhood and now as a homeowner in the same wider neighborhood vicinity, I cannot think of a better opportunity for our community than to convert this space into decent, affordable, multi-family housing should that be the direction chosen for this property.

A simple search on a popular real estate website for Red Wing rentals returns only 12 results, all rentals that command well over $1,200 per month. This community has a storied history of having great manufacturing jobs.

The housing available, however, does not always align with what is affordable for people working in these manufacturing roles. If we want strong, stable candidates for the jobs available in our community, we need to provide housing those individuals and families can afford.

Instead of asking if we want "another East End on the West End," let's talk about why we even have an East End in the first place. What systematic issue are we not addressing in that neighborhood, what do those residents need to be happy and healthy members of our community? Let's ask them instead of assuming we know the answers. What can we do to ensure we are providing wrap around services and support for individuals moving into affordable housing, or newer members of our community?

As a note, I grew up playing at the park at the old Jefferson School, which is actually the closest to the old hospital, not Bay Point. Never once did I have to cross the highway to get to a playground.

Red Wing community members need to open wide the doors of our community, focusing on housing our community members can afford is a great place to start.

Brooke Ortega

Red Wing