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The February Minnesota Housing board meeting included updates on a range of topics, from the financial picture of the Agency, to changes in loan programs, and more.

Revenue forecast improves

Commissioner Mary Tingerthal opened the meeting by letting board members know that the revenue forecast released earlier that day reduced the state's deficit by nearly one-half. This was good news, said Tingerthal, but the state still requires additional revenues to avoid further program cuts.

Commissioner and Governor travel to Roseau

Tingerthal informed the board that she had accompanied Governor Dayton to Roseau earlier in the month. Roseau is a community in which economic growth is constricted because its major employer, Polaris Industries, has been unable to expand due to the inadequate supply of nearby housing. This is a perfect example of a situation that can be addressed through the Governor's workforce housing initiative, said Tingerthal.

Housing tax credit allocation

The next board meeting, in early April, will include a lengthy discussion of the proposed 2014-15 housing tax credit allocation plan. Tingerthal said that the Agency had received many comments, and that the proposals for cost containment remain a "hot topic."

Financial update for Agency

There was good news on the money front. Tingerthal announced that the Agency received $3 million in federal rental assistance funds tied to disability (Section 811) housing. The Agency worked with DHS in preparing the proposal. In addition, the Agency received conditional approval from the FHA to originate federally insured loans.

The Agency board received a rosy financial report for the first six month of fiscal year 2013. Because of a sharp drop in loan losses the Agency is in very good shape, receiving $8.2 million in revenues over expenses for the six-month period.

New position to assist with supportive housing portfolio

Beth Haukebo was introduced to the board. Beth, formerly with Hart Shegos and Associates, is a contract employee who will assist supportive housing developers. The contract position is jointly funded by Family Housing Fund, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Agency. In addition to providing technical assistance, Beth will help the Agency improve the management of its portfolio of supportive housing developments.

Changes to loan programs

The board approved an update to the Fix Up home repair loan program. Maximum secured loans were increased from $35,000 to $50,000. Unsecured loans, previously capped at $10,000, can now be made for up to $15,000. The maximum income a family can have to qualify for these loans is $96,500. In addition, Agency loans for energy conservation or accessibility improvements, which do not have an income limit, will increase from $7,500 to $15,000. This program update represented the final piece of a major reworking of all of the Agency's single family loan programs, a process initiated last June. Changes will take effect on March 15.