The November Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Meeting covered topics ranging from staffing changes (though not in the Commissioner position), changes to eligibility criteria for the Step Up mortgage program, and budget proposals for next legislative session. A progress report on the 2014 Affordable Housing Plan revealed that the Agency is exceeding its goals for mortgages to households of color in 2014.
Commissioner Tingerthal announced that Governor Dayton had offered her the opportunity to stay on job for his second term, and she has accepted the offer.
In another major staffing announcement, Tingerthal said that Assistant Commissioner Mike Haley will be retiring December 16 as the head of the Agency’s home ownership division. Haley was recognized by the board for his 34 years with the Agency. Tingerthal also mentioned that Haley will be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Mortgage Association.
Moving into Haley’s position will be Kasey Kier. Kier has been with the Agency 20 years, including a stint in managing Multifamily RFP and Housing Tax Credits.
Affordable housing plan report
John Patterson, Director of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation, presented the final progress report on the 2014 Affordable Housing Plan for the year ending 9/30/14, the final year for the 2013-14 strategic plan period. Patterson called it an extraordinarily successful year for the Agency. While the Agency targeted $518 million in financial activity it ended up at $592 million, with most of the increase due to added home ownership and rental lending. Mostly, the Agency’s performance closely matched its targets.
Exceptions highlighted by Patterson included that 26% of the Agency's mortgage loans went to households of color, significantly above the 22% target, and particularly noteworthy in light of the current credit and regulatory environment. Staff also reported that funding of new construction rental housing came in higher than expected, while the number of households counseled was lower because of the decline in need for foreclosure counseling.
Mortgage loan changes; budget proposals; fair housing complaint
The board approved a proposal to increase the income cap on mortgage loans under the Agency’s new “Step Up” program to 130% of median for all households sizes. It had been at 100% of median for one- and two-person households and at 115% of median for larger households, the limits also used for the Agency’s first time homebuyer loans. Borrowers with these new income limits will not have access to any of the Agency’s downpayment assistance programs. Board member Joe Johnson asked how this change fit with the Agency’s mission, and whether those with higher incomes had other sources for loans. Staff responded that the Step Up program does offer borrowers benefits they cannot get from other lenders because of a product that Fannie Mae makes available only to Housing Finance Agencies. The profits from these loans would also fund the Agency’s low-income programs.
In additional news, Tingerthal said she had been a participant in a number of topical budget presentations to the governor's staff and MMB. In addition to presenting the Agency’s budget, the Agency is included as part of collaborative budget proposals related to children, homelessness, Olmstead, and Minnesota’s workforce. The governor will present his budget to the legislature in mid-January.
The board was also informed that the Agency is the subject of a Fair Housing complaint filed by MICAH and the cities of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center and Richfield. No further details were given, and board members were asked to direct any questions to the Agency’s attorney.