One of our long-term goals is to support a wide range of housing options to meet diverse community needs. Over the next 18 months, a seven-member East Range team will participate in the Minnesota Housing Institute—a formal process facilitated by the Minnesota Housing Partnership to find solutions to area housing challenges.  

The seven members of the East Range Housing Institute team are:  

  • Jeff Jacobson, Biwabik City Administrator 
  • Norma Jean Jofs, Aurora City Councilor & Realtor 
  • Cherie Grams, Hoyt Lakes City Councilor & ERJPB 
  • Mary Lockwood, Aurora HRA & Retired Realtor 
  • Curt Anttila, Town of White 
  • Crystal Royer, St. Louis County 
  • Karl Schuettler, ERJPB/Northspan 

MHP liaison Rosemary Fagrelius will consult with the team and provide guidance through the development process, which will include a series of two-day retreats at Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids. The first will take place this August 2-3. 

MHI curriculum is flexible in order to meet the unique housing needs of a particular area. The program specializes in coordinating between contractors and other stakeholders to increase housing production, as well as preserve and improve existing housing stock. Projects might involve, for example, brick-and-mortar locations or data collection that could lead to financing, policy updates, formal housing studies, and other developments.  

At an initial meeting on June 27, the East Range team explored ideas and potential focus areas to pursue over the coming months. Priorities could include bringing existing housing up to code, establishing a local housing trust fund, and catalyzing affordable housing options. 

As a supportive network of regional partners, ERJPB’s model for cooperative economic development lends itself readily to the MHP framework. Projects the East Range team undertakes through MHI will build on the results of an initial housing workshop we coordinated in 2021, previous mapping of potential development sites, and a housing study completed in winter 2023.   

MHP is supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. You can learn more here: Minnesota Housing Institute  

The East Range team will meet every fourth Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Aurora City Hall. Other community members are welcome to attend and participate! Consider joining us to share your input and help guide this housing development effort. For more information, contact Karl Schuettler at