At its August meeting, the board of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency discussed a range of topics, including the state's 2017 Affordable Housing Plan, the model collaboration that led to the grand opening of a supportive housing development in Grand Rapids and the increasing threat to manufactured housing parks, which provide significant affordable housing supply.
No special session
In her opening remarks, Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal expressed her disappointment that the Minnesota legislature will not hold a special session. This means that the resources available for the upcoming funding round will be less than originally expected, although there will be a small amount of bonding resources available as several previously awarded projects required fewer resources than were originally awarded.
Model collaboration in Grand Rapids
In her report on recently attended groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings, Tingerthal highlighted the community process associated with the Beacon Hill project in Grand Rapids (pictured above). She credited the Housing Institute, created and facilitated by MHP and GMHF, with organizing and facilitating a cross-disciplinary community leadership process. This led to a multi-faceted development addressing a number of community interests. Family housing was created side-by-side with supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness and with special needs, all sharing services through a new community center. Tingerthal said that the process and development spurred a sense of community pride, and fostered what the participants believe will be an enduring partnership.
It was June 2016 and the Executive Director of the Ain Dah Yung Center (ADYC) was on a conference call with half-a-dozen partners. For months, they had been working urgently to secure a site for an innovative urban American Indian youth permanent supportive housing project — a first-of-its-kind in the state, maybe even the nation. Just days before a critical funding application was due, they had found the perfect spot.
Or so they thought.
With 48 hours to go, the owners of the properties that would make way for the new development decided they didn’t want to sell. Foster remembers that moment vividly, because the breath-taking disappointment was immediately met with undaunted optimism from Chris Wilson, Director of Real Estate Development for Project for Pride in Living (PPL).
“You know what,” he said, "it’s only halftime as far as I’m concerned. We’ll make this happen.”
That level of commitment and determination has been the hallmark of ADYC’s vision to create an urban supportive housing project specifically designed to address the distinctive needs of American Indian young people aged 18 to 24.
Faced with rising operational costs in Minnesota and nationwide, it’s becoming more and more challenging to keep affordable housing affordable. A new joint program from Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy aims to subtract some of those expenses through energy-efficiency upgrades — with little sweat for the property owner and potential savings for tenants.
With building technology changing fast, many apartments built just 10 or 15 years ago don’t incorporate today’s leading approaches to reducing electric and gas usage. But affordable housing owners often lack access to expert analysis and data about the value of potential energy-efficiency technology, and without new funding for capital improvements, it can be difficult for affordable housing owners to make the decision to invest.
During its July meeting, the board of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency discussed the review of comments on its Affordable Housing Plan, increased demand for housing tax credits, the outcomes of the Agency's Homeowner Capacity Initiative, and the use of Housing Trust Fund proceeds.
Affordable Housing Plan
In her introductory remarks, commissioner Mary Tingerthal asked that board members be prepared for a possible Program committee meeting in September to review comments on the Agency’s Affordable Housing Plan (AHP). The AHP is the Agency’s annual program spending plan. Tingerthal said that a draft of the plan will be available in mid-August. The public comment period on the draft plan will continue until August 26 and the board will be asked to adopt the final plan at its September 22 meeting.