MHP Announces Outstanding Advocate Awards

MHP is excited to announce the 2020 Outstanding Advocates! MHP recognizes outstanding volunteers and organizational partners who have made significant contributions to promote affordable housing solutions at the local, state, and federal levels. Favorable consideration is given to those that advance MHP’s policy goals. MHP prioritizes building relationships with and recognizing the contributions of Black, Indigenous and People of Color community members.

The 2020 Outtstanding Advocates are:

D’Angelos Svenkenson, Founder & CEO, NEOO Partners Inc.

As a member of the MHP’s first Public Policy Advisory Group, D’Angelos helped MHP develop policy recommendations and criteria that are shaping MHP’s current policy framework and agenda. He actively participated in group discussions and provided extensive feedback, drawing upon his unique experiences and perspective, on messaging, letters to policymakers, and the final report. He shared the group’s body of work with MHP’s broader network at an Investors Council Breakfast. D’Angelos lobbied lawmakers with MHP

and proactively reached out to MHP on numerous occasions to offer his assistance in additional efforts to secure the bonding bill.

Jenny Larson of Three Rivers Community Action

Jenny was critical to MHP’s advocacy for $100 million in housing assistance. She participated in emergency task force and one-on- one calls to help identify policy solutions responsive to COVID-19. She used her relationships and influence to aggressively lobby the Walz administration and lawmakers to secure this vital resource for Minnesota families. She is recognized statewide as an expert in many areas of housing. She has always made herself available to MHP staff to answer any policy question, even while implementing a new housing assistance program. Jenny responded to every request to engage and lobby lawmakers and provided insight and feedback on numerous communications with policymakers and the administration.

Nelima Sitati Munene of ACER 

Nelima partnered with MHP on several research and policy areas this past year. She has been a crucial resource to MHP staff on local, state, and national policies and campaigns. Nelima continually raised the voices and experiences of some of Minnesota’s lowest income renters. As a participant and guest speaker at MHP’s COVID-19 Housing Task Force, Nelima always advocated for resources to help elevate cost burdens impact on extremely low-income families and policies to improve housing stability, access to quality housing,

and fair and dignified treatment of renters, including evictions policies.  On numerous occasions, Nelima helped inform MHP’s policy positions, especially emergency housing assistance. She ensured MHP’s communications with policymakers, the administration, and the media reflected the experiences and needs of the tenant communities she organizes. She co-chairs Congresswoman Omar’s Eviction Task Force.

Asad Aliweyd of New American Development Center

Asad’s leadership in helping to advance local and federal advocacy efforts and his role in influencing state policy development and advocacy was critical to MHP this year. He worked across sectors and levels of government to build the public narrative around housing, with consistent focus on uplifting voices of renters, under-resourced households, and the East African community. His leadership in lobbying Hennepin County Commissioners helped secure significant increases in housing resources for the county. His relationships with Minnesota members of Congress helped MHP more deeply engage with electeds, and helped produce a forum with hundreds of attendees. He is also a founding member of Opportunity Starts at Home Minnesota Chapter. Asad was a regular participant, speaker, and policy thought leader at MHP hosted events including MHP’s Legislative Update series, speaker at the IC breakfast, and participant in MHP’s COVID-19 task force.

Chad Adams of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership

Chad engaged directly with legislators through trips to the State Capitol and direct lobbying. He was critical in helping MHP engage with key lawmakers in Southwest Minnesota throughout regular session and special sessions. He used his relationships to help navigate complex political dynamics and foster understanding. Chad responded to odd hour and weekend texts and calls asking for his assistance to lobby lawmakers on urgent matters. He always found time to advise MHP staff on policy issues and proposals, including through participation in MHP’s COVID-19 Housing Task Force. In this forum, he highlighted unique challenges for rural Minnesota communities. Chad eagerly stepped up to serve as the Homes for All Co-Chair after initial MHP outreach. His advocacy efforts were noticed by the statewide membership, which overwhelming supported his nomination.

Swift County Collaborative

Swift County partners participated in MHP’s Housing Institute (Round 6). Following the conclusion of the institute, Swift County RDA, HRA, and the County Administration continued to advocate for policy goals in furtherance of their community development priorities. With the support of County Commissioners, they proposed and received approval for a Swift County Local Housing Trust Fund in 2020. Along the way, they worked with MHP staff to advocate at the state level for a state match for local housing trust funds, including contacting their local lawmakers including chief author Senator Andrew Lang (17, R). Swift County HRA and RDA staff worked with MHP technical assistance providers on acquiring and preserving multi-family rural rental homes (USDA Rural Development 515 properties). In so doing, they built and maintained relationships with former Congressman Colin Peterson and his staff, ensuring their federal representatives were educated on the housing needs of Swift County