Advocates have a major victory to celebrate with an announcement in late November that the Minneapolis Multifamily HUD office, slated for closure, would stay open for business. The decision to retain the Minneapolis office reflects successful advocacy mounted over a six month period by nonprofit and for-profit housing developers, lenders, Minnesota Housing, and key elected officials. Rep. Keith Ellison was at the center of this effort to keep jobs in his district and to retain a leading upper Midwestern partner in lending for affordable rental housing.
The Minneapolis field office had been set for closure, as part a national consolidation of staff from 50 HUD offices that handle rental housing loans into 10 large offices. The original plan was for the Minneapolis office's lending responsibilities to be transferred to Chicago, for the 35 local HUD staff to relocate, and for the office to close shop.
Shutting down the Minneapolis HUD office would have been a major loss to the region. The HUD multifamily staff in Minnesota was known nationally for leadership in affordable housing preservation. The office has collaborated with Minnesota Housing and other housing funders in the Interagency Stabilization Group for more than 20 years. This effort has resulted in one of HUD's lowest loan default rates and highest performance scores for housing quality in the country.
The Minneapolis HUD field staff was also recognized for unique leadership in financing senior cooperative housing. The 50 senior co-ops financed through the Minneapolis office exceeded the number of similar loans made by all other HUD offices combined.
Only two of the 40 HUD multifamily offices slated to close, those in Minneapolis and Baltimore, were retained when HUD's Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing announced the modified consolidation plan in November.
After being notified of the original plan for closure, Representative Keith Ellison took on a leadership role in dissuading HUD from closing the local office by differentiating it from others. He brought top HUD officials to Minneapolis to see first-hand the work being done and the strong community support for the office. Senator Franken and Mayor R.T. Rybak joined Ellison and other members of Minnesota's congressional delegation in calling to keep the local HUD office.
Congressman Ellison's December 4 thank you letter to HUD, signed by all members of Minnesota's congressional delegation, cites the help of Mary Tingerthal, Bill Zeigler, Patrick Murphy, Chip Halbach, Paul Fate, Tom Fulton, and Brian Carey for local help in advocating for the office.
MHP extends its congratulations to advocates, political leaders, and the state for this important victory!