On February 12, MHP celebrated its 25th year with an anniversary party at the Schmidt Artist Lofts. The event was a chance to celebrate our many partners and an opportunity for everyone to network and enjoy themselves. People caught up with old friends, made new ones, and shared ideas about how we can all continue to meet housing and community needs.
Aside from the networking and food and beverages, people gathered for a few short reflections on MHP's work over the years. MHP's Board Chair, Paul Sween of Dominium, thanked MHP's partners and supporters.
Sue Haigh, CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and former chair of the Met Council, served as MHP's board chair in the 2000s. She reminded the crowd that MHP has been instrumental in starting up several networks over the years. Among them was Habitat Minnesota, which now connects Habitat affiliates throughout the state. And in the last few years, the Homes for All alliance has corralled affordable housing advocates to make a shared ask of the state legislature. Minnesota won a historic $100 million in bonding for affordable housing in 2014 as a result.
Rep. Keith Ellison, who could not join in person, sent a video congratulating MHP on its years of advocacy, including our part in the recent national success of freeing up funds for the National Housing Trust Fund. "When people don't have a solid, stable place to live, it's harder for students to study, harder for people to meet their families, harder to get a job, harder to stay healthy," said Ellison. "I know that's why you're dedicated to ensuring that we can house Minnesotans of all types, but mostly the very poor."
Visionary leader Nick Tilsen of the Thunder Valley CDC on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota added by video that through technical assistance over the past several years, MHP has "truly invested into us to be able to build our organizations and to build our capacity." Tilsen explained that the Thunder Valley CDC is undertaking multi-phase housing and infrastructure developments to build a sustainable future without poverty for the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
MHP's executive director and founder, Chip Halbach, reflected on the fact that MHP was founded in a time of rising rents, rising homelessness and the need for a change in how we approach housing. Though many of the trends persist, we have also accomplished so much along the way, in both policy and capacity building, he added. Halbach shared a map of the places MHP has worked the last few years in building capacity.
MHP's capacity building locations, 2009-2014
Sydney Dexter of the Minneapolis HUD office, surprised Chip with a plaque honoring his years of commitment to affordable housing.
Last but certainly not least, for affordable housing aficionados, the opportunity to take a guide tours of the attractive Artist Lofts was hard to pass up. All the artist loft apartments are affordable, being funded by historic and low-income housing tax credits and other sources. We all enjoyed seeing amenities like sound rooms for music practice and art and dance studios for visual artists and dancers.
May this event kick of 25 more years of improving the conditions of home and community in Minnesota and beyond!