MN ERASE Efforts Help Lead to $50M in Emergency Rental Assistance for Minnesota

On behalf of the Minnesota ERASE Campaign, we thank the Governor, lawmakers, and Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for the passage of bill HF 2271, which includes $50M in emergency rental assistance (ERA) for the Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP)! This will provide critical support to Minnesota families who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Minnesota ERASE Campaign (End Rental Arrears and Stop Evictions) advocated for lawmakers to approve emergency rental assistance (ERA) before the end of session, and to ensure ERA will reach the lowest income and most marginalized renters. With Minnesotans facing eviction in historically high numbers, emergency rental assistance will help individuals and families remain housed across our state.

The MN ERASE campaign is affiliated with the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s national ERASE Project. Through the efforts of MN ERASE, advocates elevated the need for emergency rental assistance to government and lawmakers. MN ERASE convened renters, landlords, services providers, housing and redevelopment authorities, and other housing advocates to develop ERA recommendations to Minnesota Housing and lawmakers. We are gratified that the result is an investment in helping our neighbors with lower incomes find and stay in their homes.

Co-convenors of the MN Erase Campaign include ACER (African Career Education Resource); Housing Justice Center, and MHP. For more information on MN ERASE, go to: mhponline.org/minnesota-erase-campaign/

Keya Wakpala Unveils New South Dakota Billboard .

Keya Wakpala Woiċaġeyapi will be a living community that nourishes the Siċaŋġu spirit and way of life. Affordable and accessible quality-built homes, centered around a community garden and a multi-use gathering space, with places for people to shop and work and for children to play together, Keya Wakpala is a pathway for the Siċaŋġu Lak̇ota Oyate “to reclaim who they are” near Mission, South Dakota. 

From its very beginning, Keya Wakpala has been shaped and guided by community voices speaking what they need and want, including dedicated space for food and agriculture, livelihood, and recreation. The homes will be culturally-relevant, adaptable to all family sizes and generations, with room for future growth. This 600-acre site will eventually incorporate athletic facilities, sports fields, a network of walking, biking and hiking trails, small business incubators, retail, restaurants, as well as many other businesses and amenities.

Recently, a new billboard was unveiled to help promote the project! MHP, a technical assistance provider for the project, was thrilled to have the opportunity to use grant funds to commission two talented Siċaŋġu artists Cas and Sonni, as well as a Lakota graphic design professional to bring the project to life!

2023 Minnesota State Housing Profile

March 2023

MHP announces the 2023 State Housing Profile, a precursor to MHP’s seminal State of the State’s Housing report. Released once every two years, this resource provides new data measurements at the state level in critical housing areas for 2023. MHP’s State Profile features data on cost-burdened households paying at least 30% of their income for housing, a spotlight on children affected by housing insecurity, the rise of evictions, homeownership disparities, a comparison of what jobs pay vs what renting and owning actually costs, and more.

Key takeaways from the 2023 State Profile: 

  • More than 590,530 Minnesotans are housing cost burdened, or at risk of needing to sacrifice basic needs like food and medicine to afford their home.
  • The impacts of housing cost burden are felt disproportionately; more than three quarters of low-income Minnesotans are cost burdened, and 63% of senior renters are cost burdened. Additionally, 57% of Black renters and 45% of white renters experienced cost burden.
  • Stable housing is foundational to a child’s well-being. In Minnesota, 279,000 children live in cost-burdened homes. 
  • In 2022, 22,455 evictions were filed around the state. Evictions have increased 33% in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic historic state filings.
  • For renters struggling to make ends meet, finding an affordable home can be difficult. Minnesota currently has a shortage of 103,626 affordable and available homes for extremely low-income renters.
  • Racial disparities in homeownership are among the worst in the nation. While 78% of white households own their home, only 31% of Black households are homeowners in Minnesota.

Download (PDF): Minnesota State Housing Profile

MHP’s Legislative Update: Rep. Agbaje & Amy Koch

Minnesota state policy update mid-2023 session featuring Amy Koch of Hylden Advocacy & Law, Annie Shapiro of Minn Cap and Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL – Minneapolis). Rep. Agbaje serves as Vice Chair of the House Housing Committe, in caucus leadership, and co-chairs the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus. Talking about housing policy.

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MHP works with OPEN Housing in Port Angeles, Washington.

Olympic Peninsula Extended Needs Housing (OPEN Housing) spent a snowy 1.5 days in Port Angeles, WA with MHP staff members Barbara Dolan, Devon Pohlman, and Courtney Overby on a site visit to complete a needs assessment; exchanging stories, touring properties, and diving into discussions on priorities for the organization. OPEN was formally incorporated in 2019 and currently offers 14 units for rent at two properties in Sequim and Port Angeles. With a mission to “provide sustainable, secure, affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities and low-income others in a shared and integrated community so all can thrive,” OPEN Housing develops low-income housing for adults with disabilities (and other low-income neuro-typical adults) who are willing and able to live and thrive in a shared housing community.  

In the US, nearly 75% of adults experiencing intellectual or developmental disabilities live in their family’s home. On the Olympic Peninsula, that number is closer to 99%. Imagine being an adult who wants to live independently, develop social skills, and learn what it means to contribute to their community with nowhere they can afford to go. Out of every four Americans, one experiences an intellectual or developmental disability. housing adults with disabilities shapes the collective future of all of us.

OPEN Housing applied for technical assistance (TA) through MHP’s online application. MHP technical and financial assistance is tailored to help build the capacity of local housing drivers and promote local housing solutions that address gaps in existing services. A needs assessment site visit is the first step for the MHP team and project partners to meet in person, view properties or sites, and build the foundation for a 24-36 month-long working relationship. MHP assesses whether an organization has the capacity and readiness and aligns with its mission in order to be successful when utilizing MHP programs and funding sources. This time together provides MHP staff with the opportunity to connect with individuals, entities, and partners involved in collaboratively crafting a living work plan. Creating affordable housing and building strong communities is complex work! 

From left to right: Devon Pohlman (MHP), Barbara Dolan (MHP),  Kimberly Ortloff (OPEN Board President), Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (Port Angeles City Council) Liza Searles (Executive Director), Courtney Overby (MHP)

As part of the OPEN Housing needs assessment, MHP staff worked closely with the team to identify and prioritize organizational challenges. The project team met and heard from local Port Angeles council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin about the approach and systemic barriers to housing that the community-at-large faces. MHP staff also heard directly from Dorine Hunter, a former board of directors’ officer, about the significance of the acronym OPEN as a name that supporters would recognize, and about the extensive network of the mothers of those experiencing disabilities, who founded and sustain the organization’s operations and administrative success. Hearing the stories firsthand, in community, forges meaning and structure, and sets the tone for the rest of the technical assistance engagement.  

The assessment revealed that OPEN’s communal single-family home model is well-positioned for organizational sustainability and the future development of new housing for IDD adults. MHP’s work plan with OPEN Housing will include board of director recruitment and training and reviewing existing and creating new policies and procedures. OPEN Housing is excited about an update to the website and a rebranding effort in addition to hiring, staff development, and strategic organizational planning.  

MHP’s Community Development team delivers the resources and knowledge needed to create and preserve housing and community assets. We collaborate directly with communities, regions, and organizations across the country to achieve their housing and community development goals. From innovative community planning practices to knowledge of complex federal grants and programs, our expertise helps to create effective — and lasting — collaboration among community leaders.  

Does your community need knowledge in housing, community, and/or organizational development? Looking for collaborations and partnerships to bring affordable housing to your community? To learn more, contact Devon Pohlman, Director of Community Development at devon.pohlman [at] mhponline.org.

Take 5 with MHP’s Madeleine Hammerlund & Micah Coatie

Take Five is MHP’s series that asks the same five questions of a variety of people intersecting with MHP, from staff to housing advocates! We are excited to welcome Housing Campaign Organizer Madeline Hammerlund, and Capitol Pathways Intern Micah Coatie.

Madeleine Hammerlund

Q1. Who are you?

Madeleine Hammerlund; Housing Campaign Organizer. I am joining MHP as special staff to the campaign Our Future Starts at Home, advocating for a constitutional amendment

Q2. What attracted you to working with MHP?

MHP is driven by research-supported work and creating a more equitable system through housing policy which aligns with my values. The organization provides an opportunity to improve the lives of all Minnesotans through strategic organizing, building relationships and partnerships while growing as a community worker, and conducting ethnographic research.

Q3. What’s a challenge in the field of housing right now?

Right now, I feel challenged by the individuals who don’t YET recognize housing to be a human right. It is also clear that our housing system needs more sustainable and continuous funding, and I am enthusiastic about ensuring more affordable and accessible housing through the passing of Our Future Starts at Home amendment.

Q4. Is there a book by your bed, and what is it?

There are three books by my bedside: Hero of a Thousand Faces by James Campbell; Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Q5. Who is your superhero? 

My superhero is the person who actively aligns their words with their actions, someone who can remain kind in challenging times, and those that gently welcome the full spectrum of emotion. Those who have helped shape my perspective include John Fire Lame DeerClarissa Pinkola Estés, and my Moms.


Micah Coatie

Micah joins MHP as our 2023 Capitol Pathways intern, he has already been busy assisting our policy team during the legislative session. The Capitol Pathways program places college students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color in paid internships with government offices, nonprofits, corporations, and law firms where they gain policymaking experience and built relationships in and around the Capitol.

Q1. Who is Micah?

When I think about who is Micah? Multiple ideas come to mind immediately, but one idea that keeps coming to mind is teachable. I am a person who needs and wants to experience and learn new things. Even though sometimes the lessons are hard, and I don’t understand at times the deeper meaning of the lesson. I am still grateful for the opportunity, because sometimes a simple or even complex lesson can open up a whole new way of thinking.

Q2. What attracted you to working with MHP?

Over the last two years I have worked at the non-profit Avivo Village. While working there, I support residents directly with day-to-day issues and struggles. Over the last two years I have questioned multiple times why residents who have everything in place to move and live in their own space have been held back from moving. I was attracted to MHP because it gave me the opportunity to see the behind the scenes of how the advocacy work we do today affects the residents I work with tomorrow!

Q3. What’s a challenge in the field of housing right now?

I would have to say not having enough social workers in the field to help with are homeless population today is a major challenge in the field of housing right now. Even if we house this population without the proper long-term support eventually the cycle will continue, and this population will be back on the streets in the matter of months.

Q4. Is there a book by your bed, and what is it?

I currently am going through a phase of reading autobiographies and currently the book by my bed side is Viola Davis’s autobiography Finding Me.

Q5. Who is your superhero? 

William Lund

Look out for more Take 5 profiles coming soon!


Part Two: North Olympic Regional Veterans Housing Network’s Work with MHP: David’s Story

Part I centered on MHP’s technical assistance work with North Olympic Regional Veterans Housing Network (NORVHN), which involved instilling sound practices, procedures, and policies for the fast-growing organization. MHP facilitated strategic planning and worked to build a solid foundation for the organization. Critically, MHP helped NORVHN restructure its board of directors to a highly functioning body with the capacity to make important connections in the community. Cheri Tinker, Executive Director, shared how this has impacted the veterans that they serve, highlighting the story of veteran David Williams.

Photo: NORVHN client David Williams

Viola, one of the new board members from this process, works in direct service – and because of her relationship with NORVHN, referred David to them. Without that connection, without Viola knowing NORVHN’s unique set of services, David wouldn’t have ever come to them, as on the surface his medical issues made him seem beyond their care.

David, whom Cheri calls, “A quiet, delightful man,” was homeless and had a mountain of health issues. Although he had been clean and sober for 8 years when he came to Sarge’s Place (one of NORVHN’s shelters), he was previously a chronic drug user, which wreaked havoc on his memory and body. He had severe diabetes, which he did not monitor. He was accepted into the shelter and the staff stabilized his medical condition. There he lived for 8 months – concurrent to NORVHN receiving MHP technical assistance with Deputy Director of Community Development Barbara Dolan.

NORVHN built Hobucket House, a permanent, 7-bedroom group home, David was able to move right in. One night he passed away peacefully. When the Chief of Police arrived, himself a combat vet, he noted that although David had only lived at Hobucket House for 3 weeks, he died with “family.”

David had no connection to family or friends – the staff and residents of the organization were it. They serve as the familial unit for many of the residents. NORVHN is often listed as next of kin for these previously homeless vets. In fact, several urns of ashes sit with Cheri at her desk, who honors their memory as part of their program.

Cheri says about David, “It was a beautiful thing that we could support him at the end of his life. He had a comfortable place, he was eating and drinking, he was warm, and he was dry. A man who had lived on the streets for years died with dignity in a comfortable environment with a sense of family. We were able to give someone the compassion of being present with them at the end of their life.”

“Without that connectivity – from the board being expanded and more vibrant, maybe David might not have been in our care.” That’s due to MHP’s technical assistance, which helped “bring truth out from our essence.” “MHP and Barbara helped us to create the foundation. I had the scaffolding, they helped to create the foundation.”

Part One: North Olympic Regional Veterans Housing Network’s Work with MHP: “It saved our agency.”

It all began with a Google search. In 2020, with the global pandemic raging, Cheri Tinker felt overwhelmed in her position as Executive Director of the North Olympic Regional Veterans Housing Network (NORVHN), an organization she founded. While NORVHN was experiencing growth, it was all set up on one person’s shoulders. Like many nonprofits, NORVHN evolved from the passion of one individual – in this case, Cheri’s passion was helping homeless vets in her community. But never having run a organization like this before, she built it the only way she knew how. NORVHN’s foundation wasn’t solid, making their important work unsustainable. Cheri turned to an internet search, and stumbled upon MHP. That, she says, was “transformative.”

Once houseless veterans served by Sarge’s Place.

NORVHN works with homeless Veterans of Clallam and Jefferson Counties on the Olympic Penninsula of Washington State, providing emergency shelter and permanent housing for Veterans in Washington State. This includes a 7-unit permanent supportive project built using modular housing, the first of its kind in the State of Washington. They also have a 2-story apartment building in Forks (Sarge’s Place), a second-hand store, a farm, a 4-plex in Port Angeles, and more. At the time Cheri contacted MHP, they had the projects and momentum, what they needed was the structure and support to make it sustainable.

When COVID struck, and NORVHN’s access to grants dried up, they applied for technical assistance with MHP with the goal of making them “whole.” MHP’s work came via the uber capable hands of Deputy Community Development Director Barbara Dolan. Barbara helped Cheri on all of the aspects of an organization that are hidden from the public–the unsexy yet critical work like sound practices, procedures, policies, manuals. She helped streamline their bookkeeping processes, transforming their audits and how grantors viewed their finances. They worked on restructuring the board of directors from elderly Vietnam Vets who didn’t have the capacity to support Cheri’s work, to a highly functioning board who could make important connections in the community. They did strategic planning, succession planning, and built an incredible structure for the organization. As Cheri gushes, “MHP saved our agency—you made it vibrant and healthy again!”

This is Part One in a two-part series on MHP’s work with NORVHN. Read Part Two in which we’ll tell Veteran David’s Story here.

Take Action Now! $2 Billion for Housing in 2023

We need your help! Join MHP in advocating for critical investments in housing.

With a historic budget surplus, we have the means and now is the time for lawmakers to prioritize desperately needed investments. $2 billion for housing are needed to ensure that people have access to safe, healthy, and affordable housing. 

Contact legislative leaders today to ensure housing is a priority as targets are set for committees.


Please call and email Legislative Leaders TODAY:   

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman

Phone: 651-296-4280

E-mail: rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn

Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (60, DFL)

651-296-7809

Use This Email Form


Suggested message:

Dear _______: 

My name is __ and I live at [___address & city___].

With the historic budget surplus, I urge you to support $2 billion budget targets for housing.

With our budget surplus, we can make a substantial impact on mitigating our housing crisis and creating a more just, equitable housing system. Please prioritize housing this legislative session! 

Thank you!

Local Housing Trust Funds in Minnesota

February 2023

This publication provides information on the numerous Minnesota cities and counties that have adopted Local Housing Trust Funds (LHTFs). With Minnesota having adopted a state match program, we have continued to see a steady increase of funds established across the state. This report includes information from MHPs most recent survey of cities and counties regarding local housing trust funds. 

Download (PDF): Local Housing Trust Funds in Minnesota