To the editor:

As the director of Goodhue County Habitat for Humanity, I am calling on the Red Wing Advisory Planning Commission to approve a plan to create affordable housing in the old St. John's Hospital.

At Habitat we are acutely aware of the need for affordable housing in the city and the rest of the county. For every 10 applicants that come to us looking for help, we unfortunately have to turn down nine of them. We are very careful in our selection process and chose people that we are certain will become successful homeowners.

It is apparent to those of us who screen these applications that wages are not keeping up with the cost of housing in our area. We have applicants that are single mothers, individuals that have a disability, people that have had a marriage break up, families that moved into town to escape a negative situation in another city, families that are living in their parent's basement, families paying exorbitant rents in a trailer park with high utilities to go along with it. These and many others are people that are looking for affordable, safe, decent housing.

Our resources at Goodhue County habitat are limited, and we are able to help three to four families a year. What about the other 30 or 40 families that apply to partner with us? Many languish in a marginal living situations, paying more than 40% of their income for rent, a situation that will keep them always struggling, always living paycheck to paycheck, maybe unable to pay off their mountain of student loans, or a medical bill, or a simple repair on a car.

These are people that need and deserve a decent place to live, and the old hospital is an ideal place for a person with a disability, or a senior on a fixed income, or a single mother to raise a family, to have a place to call home.

I am amazed at the neighbors who would not welcome these families to their neighborhood. I can only assume that they don't know the people that I meet on a weekly basis, good people, who only want what we all want. We have an amazing opportunity to help bridge the gap between supply and demand.

People want to live and work in Red Wing. Too many are unable to find a place to live, and it is the responsibility of the city to help address this problem.

Please do your job. commissioners! Support the city's comprehensive plan and approve this project. We are better when we all do better, and this is an opportunity to help make that happen for at least some in our city.

John Parkes

Red Wing