At the January Minnesota Housing board meeting, a change in board leadership and several new senior staff were announced. The board reviewed the agency's 2015 work plan objectives, and bylaws were approved for the formation of a Homeless Management Information Service (HMIS) taskforce.
New board chair; two new staff join leadership
The January board meeting opened with a major announcement concerning the board’s composition. Ken Johnson, who has served as board chair during Commissioner Tingerthal’s entire term in office, has stepped down from the chair position and will leave the board as soon as his replacement is appointed by the governor. Taking over as chair is John DeCramer. DeCramer, from Marshall, joined the board in 2012 and is a relatively new member. DeCramer, an engineer, also serves as a city council member in Marshall and is on the board of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership. Tingerthal said that she had a list of possible replacements for Johnson’s board seat and expects an appointment soon.
Commissioner Tingerthal also introduced new staff on the agency’s leadership team: Wes Butler, who now heads the agency’s Multi-Family Division, and Ryan Baumtrog, the new director of intergovernmental affairs. Butler comes from the City of Minneapolis, where he held a position similar to his role at Minnesota Housing. He has also worked for the Washington County HRA. Baumtrog comes to the agency from the state’s Office of Management and Budget, where he was responsible for financial planning and economic forecasting. In introducing Baumtrog, Commissioner Tingerthal said that she was also restructuring staff positions by joining the policy work under Baumtrog with the research and evaluation division headed by John Patterson. Both positions will report to Deputy Commissioner Barb Sporlein.
HMIS taskforce created
The board approved the bylaws for the formation of a Homeless Management Information Service (HMIS) taskforce. The taskforce is to be the first ever created by Minnesota Housing and follows the model the state has employed in health care. The agency is taking over leadership of the process of guiding the federally mandated homeless management information system, and the taskforce will be a component to that restructuring. The agency and its taskforce will also be looking at a redesign of software and the various contractual relationships associated with the homeless reporting system. While board members thought that the proposed structure was “weighty,” they were interested in keeping abreast of the new system.
2015 work plans
Deputy commissioner Barb Sporlein reviewed the 2015 work plan objectives for the eight agency staff divisions for the board. These annual work plans are the final ones under the current 3-year strategic planning period and are consistent with the Affordable Housing Plan adopted by the board last September. Notable priority items in the 2015 plan highlighted by Sporlein include work related to the Olmstead (greater housing choice for the disabled population) and homeless plans, a new three-year strategic plan with updated preservation strategies, creating a statewide affordable housing database, updating request-for-proposal (RFP) criteria (including the predictive cost model and sustainability/green communities guidelines), implementing senior and workforce housing strategies, and developing the first annual report on cost containment.
In other announcements, Tingerthal said that the agency has officially received a transmission from HUD of the fair housing complaint filed by MICAH and others and represented by Myron Orfield. Tom O’Hern, the attorney assigned to the agency by the state attorney general, will lead the drafting of the agency's response.