From tenant organizing to founding and leading a nonprofit advocacy and community development organization, the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP), Chip Halbach has dedicated his life to advancing stable, affordable housing in Minnesota and beyond.
This September, he'll end his tenure as Executive Director, making way for new leadership at MHP and new outlets for his deep commitment to homes for all.
"Before Google, the answer to your affordable housing questions was usually found in Chip Halbach," says Warren Hanson, Executive Director of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. "As the founder of MHP, Chip created and built and led MHP to become the go-to housing organization to respond to housing demands and create strategic solutions.”
Across the nation, Dr. Desmond’s deeply affecting storytelling has ignited an urgent conversation about the growing lack of safe, adequate housing for those with the lowest incomes in our communities.
With a presentation and panel discussion with key stakeholders, Dr. Desmond’s presence in the Twin Cities will help to shine a light on these pressing issues and lift up policy and funding ideas – at the federal, state and local level – that can lead to sustainable solutions to the affordable housing crisis.
Homelessness is often hidden. On the White Earth Reservation — where one-third of the population is homeless — people without a place to call home don’t sleep on sidewalks or in abandoned vehicles.
“We tend to not kick our people out on the street,” says Ben Bement, Director of Human Services for the White Earth Nation. Instead of going outside, people crowd together in homes meant for far fewer residents.
“It’s not uncommon in White Earth to find a three-bedroom house with about 18 people living in there,” Bement says. “And there are a lot of problems associated with overcrowding. One in three of our kids living in a homeless situation are subject to domestic violence, and one in five are subject to sexual violence.”
According to Dawn Sherk, Economic Development Planning Coordinator for the White Earth Nation, many homeless community members find shelter with relatives. “You find hidden homelessness on a lot of reservations because folks are camping on the couch at their sister’s mother’s aunt’s place,” Sherk says.
Sherk and Bement, along with four other members of the White Earth Nation (pictured above), formed a team to address homelessness in their community as part of MHP’s first-ever Native Communities Development Institute, an 18-month peer-to-peer learning program focused on building project management and community development skills. The team chose to build a supportive housing complex with a “housing first” approach.
At its March meeting, the Minnesota Housing board discussed changes to the Bridges program and the use of Agency tax exempt bonding to convert 26 historic Fort Snelling buildings into affordable apartments, the Upper Post Flats.
In her opening remarks Commissioner Mary Tingerthal informed the board that Minnesota Housing will move its office location this coming August. The Agency will be located in the renovated former Macy’s building in downtown St. Paul.