MHP Concludes the 8th Housing Institute
Since 2010, MHP’s Housing Institute model has brought together regionalized housing leaders and stakeholders to share their experiences, learn best practices, and develop creative solutions for bringing quality affordable housing to their communities. MHP has recently concluded the 2022-23 institute cohort which featured 4 teams from southern Minnesota: Janesville, Wabasha, Winnebago, and Winona.
Over the course of the institute the teams convened for five in person workshops that covered key topics; exploring foundational work, effective collaboration, strategic communications, the development process and strategies, and funding and resources. Workshop agendas included a variety of activities such as; a panel of Developers specializing in a variety of building strategies, project presentation opportunities to both funders and developers, one-on-one access to stakeholders, training in developing partner relationships, and much more!
In addition to the in person workshops each team teams received direct technical assistance from a MHP liaison. This relationship was able to help supplement the training workshops, further their projects, and provide individualized support as an adjunct. Learn about some of the highlights from each team:
The Janesville team progressed on developing a housing preservation program and have began the process of developing strategic partnerships with a number of regional community action agencies, and multiple private property owners interested in developing housing within the City. Additionally, staff and team members were able to utilize the institute to make connections outside the region with organizations like the North Country Foundation, who work with manufactured home parks to assist with conversion to resident-owned communities. Finally, the institute provided the Janesville team with the opportunity to complete an updated housing study which will continue to be a critical reference for the team’s work moving forward.
The Wabasha team began their work by establishing the WATCH Committee (Wabasha Area Team for our Community’s Housing). This committee will be tasked with collaboratively identifying and pursuing build sites with development potential and began informal but effective community outreach right away. Three potential development projects were scoped by the team for both single-family and multi-family development including a vacant athletic field, lots adjacent to a downtown highway realignment project, and supplemental single-family lots. As a result of the team’s work Minnesota Housing has now identified Wabasha as one of their higher priority places for funding.
As the institute concludes the WATCH team will continue to work with Three Rivers Community Action, a local nonprofit, on developing tax credit funded housing projects, engage with the local Habitat for Humanity branch on smaller project development, and will be holding a community event to meet interested private developers for market rate single family development.
During the institute the Winnebago Team was able to complete a housing study that will provide localized data and information about the housing landscape. Winnebago was also able to identify opportunities for incentivizing new construction, and will pursue small single family homes and continue to explore modular options to support their aging and low-income community. Finally, with the support of MHP staff the team participated in organizing and hosting a community event promoting and clearly communicating these strategies for addressing increasing home value and an aging housing stock. They reinforced the results of the housing study to increase political support for projects.
The Winona team has been pursuing an umbrella housing fund that will help address the housing needs of those facing barriers to traditional housing, especially those at risk of homelessness and recidivism. The team has worked with MHP’s assistance to engage several critical partners, including Hiawatha Valley Social Services, the Winona Community Foundation (WCF), and philanthropic supporters. Though the fund is not yet active, all required groundwork is completed, including the establishment of operating procedures, a governing board, and an administrating partner (WCF).
In addition to the establishment of the new umbrella fund, the Winona team has been able to implement their scattered site supportive housing program, for which they have hired a program manager. This manager will work with partnering organizations to support community members at risk of homelessness and/or recidivism with accessing affordable units. Into the future the Winona team will host a community event to provide information to would-be tenants and landlords whom can participate the scattered site program, ideally resulting in the reservation of additional units.