What’s on the housing horizon? More than 135 MHP Investors Council members and guests engaged that question at a dynamic convening last week.
Michael Lander of Lander Group — a real estate developer and broker, urban planner, speaker, new urbanism advocate, and expert on Smart Growth and transportation policy — illuminated obstacles and opportunities as communities work to maintain affordability and attract and retain residents.
From left: Commissioner Jennifer Ho speaks with Trent Bowman of Klein Bank
From transportation and zoning, to building regulation and investor participation, Lander pointed out that success requires commitment, resources, and creativity. “We need to triple, quadruple the people in this room who are working on this issue everyday,” Lander said. “More people committed to this issue means more resources — and we need to increase our resources for affordable development significantly. The issue of the day across the country is social equity and affordable lifestyles.”
On the transportation front, Lander highlighted the importance of considering the “direct link between the cost of mobility and housing.”
“If you locate an affordable housing unit that requires the household use two cars, you’re chasing your tail in terms of keeping costs down for that household,” Lander explained.
Lander also pointed to zoning, building regulations, and production techniques as important factors impacting cost.
Panelists Steve Wellington of Wellington Group and Julie Wischnack, Community Development Director for the City of Minnetonka, engaged with Lander’s remarks in a discussion moderated by MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity.
From left: Moderator Anne Mavity with panelists Michael Lander, Julie Wischnack, Steve Wellington
Minnetonka, an affluent suburb west of Minneapolis, is busy with development activity. Wischnack said that as Minnetonka works to build affordable units, partnerships and strategic choices are key. “Fifty-five percent of the units near the light rail are affordable, and that’s because of partnerships with the State of Minnesota, the Metropolitan Council, and the City. That’s exciting for us. We can make smarter choices going forward and undo 50 years of suburban development.”
Wellington has worked in housing development for 40 years. In that time, he’s seen affordable development transform into an industry. “This is a really talented group of people,” Wellington said, gesturing to the audience. “Think of the thousands of units for which, collectively, you’ve been responsible. It’s daunting that we’re losing ground. Affordability is getting out of reach for so many people, and the work of this vibrant community isn’t enough.”
Wellington said that heading into the future, philanthropy could play a bigger role in funding affordable development. “We’ve just scratched the surface,” Wellington said. “There are 11 billion dollars that are going to pass from baby boomers to something, and I think a chunk of that should go to affordable housing.”
Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho and MHP Deputy Policy Director Libby Murphy recapped and analyzed the 2019 legislative session. Commissioner Ho identified two main takeaways from the session. “Everyone at the Capitol knows we need more housing,” Ho said. “And, especially in a divided government, we’re stronger when we unite.”
Ho said that despite a messy end to session, “the end result on housing was a really good compromise.”
“It’s certainly not as big as what we wanted, and certainly not as big as what we need,” Ho explained. “The Governor and Lieutenant Governor held firm on housing as a priority up until the final minute.”
Murphy noted that the successes of the session “wouldn’t have been possible without years of groundwork to educate lawmakers.” Thanks in large part to the advocacy of the Homes for All coalition, the Minnesota House created a committee specifically for housing issues, which provided a crucial forum for lawmakers to learn the issues and consider solutions.
From left: Elizabeth Glidden with 2019 Outstanding Advocates Sarah Larson, Buffy Beranek, Jonathan Weinhagen (accepting on behalf of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber) and MHP's Anne Mavity and Libby Murphy
MHP formally recognized our 2019 Outstanding Advocates, who demonstrated deep commitment to affordable housing and worked to raise awareness and advance solutions at the Capitol during the 2019 legislative session. Meet the awardees!
Join or renew your membership in the Investors Council today to be part of these dynamic conversations.
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