ST. CLOUD -- Members of Senator Tina Smith’s staff were in town Saturday to hear local housing concerns. Smith, who recently joined the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, has been sending her staff on a statewide “Housing Listening Tour” over the last three months.

Community Outreach and Housing Policy Director Osman Ahmed says many of the topics brought up at the meeting echo concerns heard at the other 18 meetings.

"The cost of housing going up, tied with the wages and people's income, the lack of affordable housing, and another one that even today we heard, the last comment was old homes an the lack of programs that are helping rehab those old homes."

Ahmed says the hope is to use the information collected at the sessions to change policy in ways that help Minnesotans.

"We learn about the programs that are working and the programs that are not working for communities across the state."

Following the meeting, staff members were available to talk one-on-one with residents who needed help working with federal agencies.