Take 5 with MHP’s Devon Pohlman & Erika Brown

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 new Community Development Director Devon Pohlman and Erika Brown as MHP’s newest Community Development Manager!

Devon Pohlman

Q1. Who is Devon?

Prior to working at MHP, Devon spent over 20 years managing affordable housing program delivery and technical assistance at Minnesota Housing, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. Devon is a graduate of Macalester College and has a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Outside of work, Devon enjoys cycling, hiking, backpacking, travel, and spending time with her family and Australian Shepard. 

Q2. What attracted you to working with MHP?

I’m excited to support front-line work with communities to advance housing and community economic development initiatives. MHP’s organizational reach – not just within Minnesota but nationally – creates a dynamic opportunity to leverage what has worked here in Minnesota and in other communities around the country. I’m also looking forward to working with a team of smart, committed and caring colleagues and partners grounded in this work.

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

The affordable housing supply is entirely inadequate, our funding sources are uneven and insufficient to meet the need, and families and individuals are stretched by these and other household expenses that can threaten family and community stability. We can do better.

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

The book on my nightstand is Anne’s House of Dreams – I’ve been reading the Anne of Green Gables series with my daughter off and on over the past couple of years (and we loved the Netflix series Anne with an E), but we’ve slowed down now that she’s started middle school and isn’t as interested in reading with mom 🙂. I’m also excited to get to The Midnight Library in my audiobook queue!

Q5. Who is your superhero? 

Without a doubt, my mom, who passed away all too soon a few years ago but who I hold close in my heart and head every single day.

Erika Brown

Q1. Who is Erika?

Erika has joined MHP as one of the newest members of the Community Development team/ Prior to coming to MHP, Erika served as the Housing Program Manager for a regional council of governments in the Triangle area of North Carolina and worked as a Project Manager for an affordable housing developer in New York City, managing rehabilitation for single- and multi-family housing. Her experience also includes affordable housing preservation, equitable neighborhood revitalization and stabilization, policy research and planning, and data analysis. She holds a bachelor’s in Political Science and French from Saint Louis University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with an emphasis on Affordable Housing Finance and Development. In her free time, Erika loves to cook, hike the southwestern hills of Illinois, play card games with her family and snuggle her 10-lb dog, Lady Grantham.

Q2. What attracted you to working with MHP?

The diversity in who we work with and where our beneficiaries are located, and how we are able to meet communities where they are at to address their challenges – together. The focus on serving and supporting communities who have chronically had the least amount of support amplifies my passion for this work.

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

Communicating the need for housing affordability, safety, and security in a way that prompts immediate, impactful action by ALL sides. As our country and communities have become more polarized over the years politically, how can we lift up housing as a non-partisan, necessary tool as a way to improve health outcomes, address climate and sustainability challenges, address wealth disparities, and so much more. I’d love to use this challenge as an opportunity to bridge divides and improve lives.

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

There are several, actually! All About Love (bell hooks), The Midnight Library (Matt Haigs), and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (Bessel van der Kolk).

Q5. Who is your superhero? 

Oh, I’ve got quite a few. I’ll name one to keep with the theme of Bell hooks. Her writings have helped me analyze my own understandings of love, gender, feminism, and race. I am drawn to her ability to use love – specifically our capacity for giving and receiving love, to improve communication, commitment, and respect with ourselves and our communities.  

Look out for more Take 5 profiles coming soon!

MHP’s EDI Hosts: A Housing Economic Development Workshop

MHP’s Emerging Developers Initiative (EDI) held a housing and economic development workshop for NW Minnesota and Tribal Nations in Crookston, MN this week: Where Are All Those Workers Driving in From and Why Can’t They Live Here? For more information on the EDI which supports the emergence and professional development of new housing developers from rural communities and Tribal Nations, contact Donald Googleye, Community Development Manager at donald.goggleye@mhponline.org.

Panelists at the EDI Workshop in Crookston, MN

Mark Borseth, Community Development Consultant, City of Thief River Falls;

Karie Kirschbaum, Economic Development Director, City of Crookston;

Anna Sheppard, President, White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC);

Mitch Berg, Associate Director of UMC’s Veden Center for Rural Development;

Elizabeth Glidden, Deputy Executive Director, MHP

U.S. Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Rural Housing Programs 

On Tuesday, September 20, the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, chaired by U.S. Senator Tina Smith, held a hearing on rural housing issues titled “Examining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service: Stakeholder Perspectives.”

The committee included testimony by Elizabeth Glidden, Deputy Executive Director of MHP, which focused on rural rental housing needs, specifically related to the Section 515 program, and recommended policy solutions.

MHP Deputy Director Elizabeth Glidden testifies at a US Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Tina Smith on rural housing issues\
Click to watch Elizabeth Glidden’s Testimony

MHP is one of a small number of organizations that have provided technical assistance with grant funds from USDA’s Multifamily Preservation Technical Assistance (MFTA) program, which supports preservation of affordable homes through the transfer of Section 515 properties from current owners to nonprofits or public housing authorities. MHP’s efforts, led by Community Development Manager Jill Henricksen, have helped preserve eighty-two units as affordable properties in Minnesota and Illinois, including securing $18.5 million in funding for preservation. As well, MHP’s research on Section 515 properties in Minnesota has caught the attention of housing advocates, cities and counties, and lawmakers.The Senate committee also featured testimony from Marcia Erickson of GROW South Dakota, Tonya Plummer of Enterprise Community Partners, and David Battany of Guild Mortgage Company. Ms. Plummer’s testimony included advocacy for support of the Native American Rural Homeownership Act (S. 2092, H.R. 6331), a bill endorsed by MHP, would authorizing the USDA Secretary to use $50 million of existing 502 single family housing direct loan appropriations for a national relending program so that Native CDFIs across the country can increase access to affordable home loans in rural Native communities.

Watch the full committee hearing here:

MHP Releases Key Facts on Housing

September 2022

All people should have a safe, secure place to call home. Today, 550,000 Minnesotans pay more than 30% of their income on housing (also known as “cost burdened”)—a number that continues to escalate. These families are forced to choose between paying for housing and other necessities such as food, medical care, transportation, and clothing. Rising housing insecurity, which disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and other households of color (BIPOC), often results in eviction, substandard living conditions, the lack of choice in one’s housing, and even homelessness. There aren’t enough homes Minnesotans can afford, and we are losing affordable homes at an alarming rate. Proven effective solutions do exist, but need sufficient funding to ensure everyone—every child, every elder, every person with a disability—has a stable place to come home to. 

The Key Facts document adds facts and figures to create a basic understanding of where we are with Minnesota’s state of housing. It also shows that the solutions to these issues are not beyond our grasp.

Download the full flyer.

MHP’s Emerging Developer Initiative Presents: Regional Housing Challenges, Perspectives, and Solutions

On Thursday, September 22, MHP is hosting a day of housing policy practicum for northwest Minnesota and tribal nations in Bemidji, MN. The day long event hosted at Bemidji”s Carnegie Library + Watermark Arts Center, will provide the opportunity for networking and provide training and tools to support local housing development. 

Sessions and Workshops Featuring:

Morning Policy Plenary at Bemidji Carnegie Library

Welcome and opening remarks by Jorge Prince, Mayor of Bemidji.

Welcome and opening remarks by Jorge Prince, Mayor of Bemidji.
GIS Presentation: Participate in an interactive overview of housing development, followed by a multi-sector panel discussion exploring regional perspectives and approaches to housing.
Lunch and Networking at Watermark Arts Center

Afternoon Roundtable Technical Assistance Practicum

Join us for a roundtable of subject matter experts, providing resources and covering such topics as:

  • Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and small homes;
  • Pro forma development (prior info submission will be requested), access to government and philanthropic resources;
  • Small business development and marketing.
  • Bring your vision to life by meeting one-to-one with an architect who will sketch your initial site plan and rendering on the spot!


This Housing Opportunity Workshop (HOW) is first in a series to promote networking and provide training and tools to support local housing development.

Thanks to our technical assistance partners: Greater Minnesota Housing Fund • Minnesota Housing • Northwest Minnesota Foundation • Northwest Small Business Development Center • Architect Jacob Mans.

For more information and to register contact Donald Googleye, Community Development Manager donald.goggleye[at]mhponline.org.

Candidate Questionnaire 2022

No matter what part of Minnesota you’re from, having a safe, stable place to come home to is the foundation for our wellbeing. But Minnesota is facing a housing shortage and affordability crisis that is making it harder for people to find a safe place to call home.

Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (Habitat Minnesota) have invited candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate to complete our 2022 Candidate Questionnaire on Housing Issues. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, have been invited to complete the questionnaire. The purpose of the questionnaire is to educate and inform residents of candidate responses to housing issues. This questionnaire is not meant to serve as an endorsement of or for any candidate or political party. 

Collected responses are posted below. Candidates were asked to limit their responses to each question to 300 words or fewer. 

For candidates

Submit the Candidate Questionnaire on Housing Issues TODAY: https://bit.ly/Candidate_Responses

Housing Fact Sheets and Reports:

Learn more about MHP and Habitat Minnesota:

Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) works to strengthen development capacity and promote policy change, serving communities throughout Minnesota and the Unites States. MHP provides capacity building for Native and rural communities, produces original research, and advocates for public policies that support housing stability and strengthen communities. You can view our most recent research, including reports on housing needs in every district in Minnesota, at mhponline.org.  

Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota (Habitat Minnesota) is a statewide support organization for Minnesota affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International. Today, Habitat Minnesota offers a range of programs, including resource development, advocacy, technical assistance and training, and lending and grant programs that are centered on advancing the work of Minnesota’s 25 Habitat for Humanity organizations to create and preserve affordable homeownership in nearly every county in our state. In pursuit of building a Minnesota where everyone has a safe, affordable, and stable place to call home, Habitat Minnesota also advances shared policy initiatives at the state level that lead to housing stability for all Minnesotans.

Read the questionnaire in full

Candidates can submit the questionnaire here: https://bit.ly/Candidate_Responses

  1. In July 2021, a national poll found that 68% of the public believes that elected officials are not paying enough attention to the rising cost of housing and ensuring everyone can afford a place to live. What do you believe is the role of government in ensuring everyone has a place to call home?   
  2. Nearly all counties in Minnesota (92%) are not able to provide sufficient shelter or temporary housing to those who are homeless. What will you do to end homelessness?  
  3. Emergency rental assistance keeps people stably housed, as we saw with federal pandemic-related funding. Historically, nonpayment of rent is the most common reason landlords evict their tenants. During times of financial crisis, families without access to financial resources may be displaced, evicted, or even become homeless. What will you do to prevent evictions? 
  4. Minnesota’s housing crisis disproportionately harms families of color, especially Black and Indigenous households. Minnesota is one of the worst states in the nation for racial disparities in homeownership. Additionally, 58 percent of Black renters are paying more than they can afford on housing costs. What meaningful steps will you take to eliminate racial disparities in housing? 
  5. There are approximately 170,000 renter households in the state that earn less than $31,200 per year. But rental assistance is only available to one out of every four income-qualifying households. Even though more than 100,000 lowest income households need homes, the state only supports the production of 100 homes each year for these families.  What will you do to support the housing needs of those at the lowest income level in Minnesota? 
  6. Energy efficiency improvements in multifamily buildings and weatherizing single family homes improve indoor air quality, eliminate drafts, and protect residents from extreme cold and heat—delivering health benefits and lower health care costs. What strategies do you support to improve housing conditions and reduce utility costs?  
  7. Minnesota’s home values are increasing rapidly, constraining low- and middle-income families from achieving affordable homeownership, including more than 64,000 households of color. What steps will you take to increase opportunities for renters to purchase homes, condos, or cooperative ownership models? 
  8. Including the recommendations of the community when developing policies and programs is a best practice for effective and lasting solutions. How will you include those most impacted by housing needs in developing and implementing housing solutions? 

Download a PDF of the 2022 Candidate Questionnaire on Housing Issues here. For candidates, the questionnaire must be filled out online.

Read candidate responses:

For Housing Advocates

What is your new Legislative District?

Every state and its municipalities are required by law to redraw their districts every 10 years based on the results of the U.S. Census. That means even without moving you may live in a new legislative district for the 2022 general election. Find your legislative district and 2022 candidates by looking up your sample ballot here.

Map Resources

View the new legislative districts using the Minnesota Legislature’s Geographic Information Services website here.

Advocacy and Social Media Toolkit

Direct outreach and social media are powerful ways to engage with candidates. Utilize MHP’s Advocacy and Social Media Toolkit for sample tweets, graphics, scripts, and more. Download an Advocacy and Social Media toolkit here.

Contact your Candidates for the MN Legislature

Directly contacting candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, can be a great way to increase the visibility on housing during election season. Find your candidates contact information here (information downloaded from Minnesota’s Secretary of State). Download a sample script here.

Vote Homes: Engaging Candidates in 2022 (Aug 18, 2022)

A webinar on the importance of candidate engagement during the 2022 election, with a focus on housing. Learn about the 2022 Candidate Questionnaire on Housing Issues, tips for non-profits engaging with candidates, social media engagement, and hosting candidate forums. You can find presentation slides (PDF) here, and a video recording here.

Vote Homes: Engaging Candidates in 2022

A webinar on the importance of candidate engagement during the 2020 election, with a focus on housing. Learn about the 2022 Candidate Questionnaire on Housing Issues, tips for non-profits engaging with candidates, social media engagement, and hosting candidate forums. You can find presentation slides (PDF) here, and a video recording here.

Out of Reach 2022

When families pay too much for rent, they’re forced to sacrifice to make ends meet — cutting back at the grocery store or delaying a trip to the doctor. Out of Reach is report released annually by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and provides rental affordability data for every state, metro area, and county in the US. You can read the full 2022 report here.

MHP’s Minnesota snapshot of the 2022 Out of Reach report highlights state and county trends that reveal that households in every corner of Minnesota are spending thousands of dollars more than they can afford each year just to pay the rent for a modest apartment. Now more than ever, as evidenced by the rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing security is central to overall health and well-being.

Some Minnesota highlights from the 2022 report include:

  • The Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment in Minnesota is $1,165. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $3,883 monthly or $46,616 annually.
  • Minnesota ranks #24 in the nation for the highest wages required to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment: The wage required to afford a modest two- bedroom apartment in Minnesota is the most expensive in the Midwest, including $3.85 higher than the Wisconsin housing wage, and $5.80 higher than North Dakota’s housing wage.  

“HOUSING WAGE” — Wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment

  • The housing wage represents what Minnesota workers need to earn to afford rent without paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. In 2022, a Minnesotan would need to earn an annual income of $46,616 to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. 
  • Compared to the state average of $22.41, the housing wage in non-metro areas is $15.76 for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • The highest housing wage in the state is located in the counties within the greater Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area, at $25.56 per hour — or earning an annual salary of $53,160 — to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

Rent affordable to median-income renter

  • For the median-income renter household in Minnesota, an affordable rent — one that does not exceed 30 percent of a household’s monthly income — is $1,158 per month.
  • Median-income renters in Carver County can afford the highest rent in the state at $1,437 per month. 
  • Median-income renters in Itasca County can only afford $611 per month, the lowest level in the state. 
  • In contrast to the $1,158 affordable to the median-income renter at the statewide level, the median-income renter household in non-metro Minnesota can afford far less — just $893 per month.

What lowest income Minnesotans can afford (30% AMI)

  • The lowest income households in Minnesota can afford just $792 per month in rent. Statewide, there is a $145 monthly gap between what a household at 30 percent of area median income earns and what would be required to pay for a modest one-bedroom apartment. Even efficiencies are out of reach; a household earning 30 percent of AMI would need to earn $1,109 more per year to afford a modest zero-bedroom apartment.
  • The Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area contains the highest gap between fair market rent and what households earning under 30 percent of AMI can afford; these households would need to earn approximately $7,660 more per year to afford fair market rent for a one bedroom apartment.

Hours at minimum wage to afford 1 bedroom apartment

  • A minimum wage earner in Minnesota must work more than 43 hours a week in every county in the state to be able to afford rent for a one-bedroom apartment. Statewide, a one-bedroom apartment costs $400 more per month, or $4,800 annually, than a minimum wage earner can afford.
  • In non-metro areas, minimum wage workers must work 48 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, and 61 hours per week for a two-bedroom. 
  • Minimum wage workers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area must work 80 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and 99 hours per week for a two-bedroom — the highest number of hours for major metropolitan areas in the state.

Many top in-demand jobs earn less than the housing wage, including critically needed healthcare jobs

  • Home health and personal care aides, one of Minnesota’s most in demand occupations, do not earn enough to afford a one bedroom at fair market rent. The median hourly wage, for over 108,800 people working in this field, falls short by $6,466 annually to afford a modest one bedroom apartment.
  • Four of the top ten in demand jobs in Minnesota do not pay enough to afford a modest one bedroom apartment, and eight of the top ten occupations do not pay enough to afford a modest two bedroom apartment. 


Out of Reach data is available for every county and metro area in the country. Click here to see how Minnesota counties compare with each other.

You can view MHP’s full 2019 Minnesota Out of Reach report here.

Take 5 with MHP Interns Alex Griffin & Shuping Wang

Welcome to the new MHP series Take Five, in which we ask the same five questions of a variety of people intersecting with MHP, from staff to housing advocacy luminaries! First up are our two summer interns, Alex Griffin and Shuping Wang.

Winning the alphabetical lottery is Alex Griffin, currently getting a Master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota (expected graduation Spring 2023). Their most recent work experience was as a Waiver Case Manager in Ramsey County, where she supported a caseload of ~30 elderly waiver recipients, and as a Trans Provider Passages Consultant with RECLAIM. She is currently a board member of the Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization (CANDO). This summer, Alex will be supporting the development of a new area of research MHP is about to embark on: examining property conditions of homes and the implications of those property quality for households statewide. At MHP, Alex is also supporting the development of a statewide public education campaign on housing in rural areas of the state.

Shuping Wang‘s educational background includes getting a Master of Public Policy (graduating May 2023) from the University of Minnesota, a stint at Utrecht University in the Netherlands the summer of 2018, and a Bachelor of History with a Minor of Economics at Xiamen University in Fujian China. This past February, she participated in the RENTERS project to find the gap between renters’ experiences and current rental policy in Minneapolis, leading interviews with advocacy organizations, city official and renters.

Shuping will be conducting an analysis of the various Emergency Rental Assistance programs and the dissemination of ERA in Minnesota over the past year. She will be conducting interviews with legal service providers, local jurisdictions, program operators and field partners to better understand the successes and barriers of the rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take 5 with Alex Griffin

Q: What is your name? Alex Griffin

Q. What attracted you to working with MHP?

Alex: My background is in social work, and access to safe, secure, and affordable housing was always the biggest barrier to stability that the clients I worked with faced. MHP immediately attracted me as an opportunity to be a part of the solution to some of these larger issues.

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

Alex: Funding! Congress capped the number of public housing units at current levels back in the 90’s, but since then many units have been demolished without funding to replace them. According to HUD, the U.S. could add as many as 220,000 new units if only there were financing for Public Housing Authorities to construct them. 

Q. Is there a book (or other media) by your bed, and what is it?

Alex: I’m reading the second book in the Three Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin. Without giving too much away, it’s a science fiction series that contemplates astrophysics and the philosophical questions related to academic skepticism. Highly recommend it!

Q. Who is your superhero?

Alex: Emma Goldman

Take 5 with Shuping Wang

We asked Shuping the same five questions, and she gave us a narrative response:

Shuping: My name is Shuping Wang. I am major in Public Policy at Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Through my last research project in Humphrey School, I interviewed several renters in Minneapolis and I realized they are a vulnerable group of people. The housing inequality has been exacerbated by the pandemic in US. We are hoping through this research project we can investigate various rental assistance programs provided by the governments.

I am an international student from China. This is my second year in America and I like my life in Minnesota. I have made several friends and they are really nice people. I am impressed by the natural landscapes here. Recently I have been reading A River Runs Through It, recommended by a friend of mine. With the book I am trying to picture the people who have lived on this land and their old lifestyle. It would be a fun journey!

Look out for more Take 5 profiles coming soon!