The March Minnesota Housing board meeting included a summary of the Agency's 2013 investments by income and race, by strategic priority, and by geography. It also included state and federal legislative updates, approval of the 2015 tax credit allocation plan and approval of a multi-agency plan to stabilize the Duluth Seaway Apartments.
Moving Up: Annual Report and Program Assessment
Commissioner Tingerthal walked the board through "Moving Up", the Agency's new Annual Report and Program Assessment, which includes reports that must be prepared annually for the legislature. The report details the Agency's $782 million in 2013 program investments by income and race of those assisted, by the Agency's strategic priorities, and by geography. For instance, in 2013 nearly 63,000 households were assisted. Of these 21,000 were Hispanic or households of color. Looking at location of program investments, 60.4% of the Agency's deferred loans and grants were committed in the Twin Cities and 39.6% in Greater Minnesota.
Modifications to 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan Approved
The board approved the modifications to the 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), which were unchanged since initially presented to the board at its February meeting. These modifications were, as promised, mostly clarifications of existing priorities to the tax credit allocation plan. More significant changes will appear in the 2016 QAP which will come to the board in April. Changes for the upcoming year tax credit awards are: refinements to areas where preservation of federally assisted housing would be classified as a priority, and related changes, such as including Indian block grant funded housing as a type of federal property investment warranting preservation.
Legislative Update: State
Commissioner Tingerthal reported that the bonding request for housing was moving well in both houses. She explained that whether it results in funding at the governor's proposed level of $50 million or the Homes for All alliance request of $100 million, she didn't see any roadblocks to getting housing funded at some substantial level.
Legislative Update: Federal
Tingerthal shared her perspective on two major Congressional proposals impacting the work of the Agency.
- Chairman Camp's tax reform bill (from the Ways and Means Committee) would continue the 9 percent housing tax credit, although it also includes proposals that lessen the value of the credit. Unfortunately, the bill would also eliminate private activity bonds and the 4% housing tax credit. (See MHP's recent blog post on this topic for more information).
- The Johnson-Crapo draft legislation would terminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, replacing these secondary mortgage market companies with a government insurance program for mortgage backed securities. Tingerthal favors funding for the National Housing Trust Fund, but expressed concern regarding how state housing finance agencies would function in national mortgage markets, should the bill pass. (See MHP's recent blog post on this topic for more information).
Plan for Duluth Seaway Apartments Approved
Multifamily program officer Phil Hagelberger secured the board's support for an investment in Duluth's Seaway Apartments. The property was damaged in 2012 in Duluth-area flooding after having been neglected for many years prior. Its low rents made it a refuge for 70 individuals at-risk of homelessness. Under the plan described by Hagelberger, the Duluth HRA will purchase and hold the property, repair storm damage and make the property safe. This is seen as an interim step, keeping the property's residents housed while a longer term solution is sought.
Other Duluth agencies are contributing services to make the project viable. Center City Housing is contributing front desk oversight, the Duluth police department has agreed to provide increased property monitoring, CHUM and Loaves and Fishes are coordinating tenant services, and LISC is providing ongoing technical assistance for the preservation effort. Minnesota Housing's contributions include $1.1 million in disaster assistance funds and $498,000 from the Housing Trust Fund for three years of operating support. In his remarks, Hagelberger shared that he would be leaving the Agency in the near future, and with a smile said that he appreciated the Agency for allowing him to take on some of its toughest projects. Joe Johnson, the Agency board member from Duluth, thanked Phil and Marcia Kolb for their personal and professional commitments toward arriving at the plan that keeps Seaway Apartments open.