MHP Investors Council recap: Action for Affordable Homes

“There’s a way that we can tap into this moment and do something big and extraordinary,” Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho said at last week’s MHP Investors Council breakfast, “Action for Affordable Homes,” attended by more than 100 affordable housing sector leaders.

Commissioner Ho said that now more than ever, Minnesotans agree access to affordable housing is key to the success of our state – and that now is the time to implement solutions. “We need to do that because it’s who we are. It’s who we are as Minnesotans to lead, not follow,” Ho said. “But also, what’s happening with the housing market is for real. And it’s not going to fix itself.” 

From left: Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Thief River Falls) and MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity

Ho and a bipartisan panel of legislators emphasized that in the 2019 session, advocates must seize the moment for affordable housing. Panelists included Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), Rep. Mike Howard (DFL-Richfield/Bloomington), Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks/Thief River Falls), and Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester). Elizabeth Glidden, MHP Director of Strategic Initiatives & Policy moderated the discussion.

Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho (left) speaks to MHP Investors Council members

Sen. Mark Johnson and Sen. Carla Nelson pointed to one solution on the docket this session: the Minnesota Tax Credit Contribution Fund for Affordable Housing (TCCF) – a key item on MHP’s legislative agenda co-authored by Senators Johnson and Nelson.  

Sen. Johnson emphasized that now is the time to engage with tax committee chairs to ensure they prioritize the TCCF. He encouraged attendees to take advantage of opportunities to directly advocate their legislators, including MHP’s Wednesdays at the Capitol. “We’ve seen something that’s been very effective,” Johnson said, referring to North Dakota’s Housing Incentive Fund, a similar program that leverages $5 for every $1 invested. “Let’s bring it up North.”

From left: Panel moderator Elizabeth Glidden, MHP Director of Strategic Initiatives & Policy, and panelists Sen. Mark Johnson (R-Thief River Falls/East Grand Forks), Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), and Rep. Mike Howard (DFL-Richfield/Bloomington)

Sen. Nelson said she sees the TCCF as a key tool to address Minnesota’s affordable housing shortage – a major barrier to economic growth – by incentivizing private investments and helping limited state resources go farther. “With the housing tax credit, every Minnesotan can be part of the solution,” Nelson said.  

Rep. Howard said he’s excited about another potential tool to help communities meet their affordable housing needs: a state matching fund to incentivize the creation of Local Housing Trust Funds, another initiative supported by MHP. “We know Local Housing Trust Funds work,” Howard said. “They’re efficient and leverage private dollars, and it’s a solution that can be tailored to the diverse housing needs across the state.” 

MHP board members Buffy Beranek (Southeast MN Multi-County HRA) (left) and Dan Smith (U.S. Bank) and MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity speak with Lisa Tabor (Culture Brokers, LLC) (right) 

Chief Author of House legislation to establish the state matching fund, Howard said that state investment will help communities get their trust funds off the ground. “My community in Richfield has had discussions about establishing a trust fund,” Howard said. “Having a state match would provide the will to move it forward.” 

Rep. Hausman said the establishment of the House Committee on Housing Policy and Finance – the first housing-only committee in years – is positive sign. “The bipartisan nature of the issue gives me hope,” Hausman said. 

However, Hausman underscored that advocates need to speak up as leadership sets budget targets for each committee. “That’s when you need to weigh in to make sure housing is on their radar,” Hausman said. 

MHP board member and CommonBond Communities CEO, Deidre Schmidt

MHP board member and CommonBond Communities CEO Deidre Schmidt closed the program, urging attendees to sign up for MHP’s Wednesdays at the Capitol and to join MHP’s Investors Council to help ensure lawmakers prioritize affordable housing the 2019 session and beyond.

Breakfast attendees converse after the program. See more photos from the event!

To be part of these dynamic conversations, join or renew your membership in the MHP Investors Council today!