MN Housing Board funds manufactured home co-ops, reports on Affordable Housing Plan

In her opening remarks at the Agency’s November Board meeting, Commissioner Tingerthal announced that Tom O’Hern had been hired as the agency’s general counsel. O’Hern had been supporting the Agency’s board from his position on the Attorney General’s staff. Tingerthal added that, going forward, the Agency will end this direct staffing arrangement with the Attorney General and will add additional legal positions to its staff. The Agency is now recruiting an attorney to focus on multifamily transactions. The Attorney General’s staff will still handle lawsuits and complaints directed at the Agency, such as the current one concerning fair housing, and will be available if the board seeks its own representation. 

Family Housing Fund hires new president

Tingerthal announced that the Family Housing Fund, one of the Agency’s funding partners, has hired Ellen Sahli as President, filling the position held by the now retired Tom Fulton. Sahli, who will be moving to the Twin Cities from Chicago, most recently served as Chief Housing Officer for the Chicago Housing Authority; and prior, was Director of Community Engagement for the University of Chicago. She has also held several positions for the City of Chicago, including directing the city’s plan to end homelessness.

Affordable Housing Forum with Secretary Castro

Tingerthal also spoke about the recent affordable housing forum attended by HUD Secretary Castro where Tingerthal participated on a community panel. She said that Rep. Keith Ellison did a “masterful job” of moderating the event and ensured that audience participants were able to share their viewpoints. Tingerthal said she met with several HUD staff, in town for the forum, who were reviewing the fair housing complaint made by MICAH and other community groups. Tingerthal said HUD was now asking the complainants to reply to the formal responses provided by Minnesota housing from the initial complaints.

Loan provided for the co-op conversion of manufactured home parks

The co-op conversion of manufactured home parks received a boost by the Agency. The board approved staff’s recommendation to participate in a $1.7 million loan being made to allow residents of the 125-lot Five Lakes Manufactured Homes Community in Fairmont to become a resident-owned cooperative. This is the Agency’s third loan participation with ROC (Resident Owned Communities) USA under a demonstration program launched in 2010. Board members asked how prior loans were doing. Agency staff said that they were proceeding as expected, although one Agency loan had been repaid early when ROC USA initiated a refinancing to address unexpected infrastructure costs. Board member Joe Johnson asked about a proposed 1% loan servicing fee a much higher level than usually seen on mortgage financing. Staff responded that most of the fee goes to Northcountry Cooperative Foundation (NCF), ROC USA’s technical assistance provider on Minnesota loans. Tingerthal added that these manufactured housing co-ops have ten times the complexity commonly found with condo homeowner associations and justified the necessity of capacity building support provided by NCF. She added that manufactured housing cooperatives uniquely provided very affordable near-homeownership.

Affordable Housing Plan report

Staff provided the board with the fourth quarter and final report on the Agency’s 2015 Affordable Housing Plan goals. Staff reported that the Agency’s production was far above goals for single family mortgage commitments (153% of goal) and new rental construction (160%) for the year. Staff attributed the rental housing success to the utilization of the federal 4% tax credit program and the availability of housing infrastructure bonds. Regarding financial performance, staff reported a 3.5% return on net assets which they said was a strong outcome in a low interest environment. The rate of loan delinquencies, while above Minnesota’s market bench mark, was below that of peer state housing agencies as reported by US Bank, the servicing contractor for Agency loans.