The September board meeting for Minnesota Housing included an overview of a new web-based housing counseling program and cost-saving measures and budgets to be proposed to the Governor. In addition, the Board approved the 2013 Affordable Housing Plan.
Framework Housing Counseling
The September meeting began with an extensive overview and demonstration of the new "Framework" web-based housing counseling program. Created by the Home Ownership Center and the national Housing Partnership Network, Framework provides people nearly anywhere (it was designed to work with a dial-up connection) to take a nationally accredited homebuyer counseling course. The $70 nine-session course culminates with a final exam. A minimum score of 80% on the final exam earns the user a certificate of completion, satisfying the homebuyer counseling requirements of Minnesota Housing, Wells Fargo (nationally), U.S. Bank (in Minnesota) and Bremer Bank. The Home Ownership Center representative said that the public rollout of the counseling program in Minnesota will occur mid-November, with a national rollout in 2013. A Spanish language version will be available beginning in June 2013.
Agency Budgets, Cost-Saving Initiatives to be Submitted
In response to budget directions from the Governor, Commissioner Tingerthal said that the Agency would be submitting both a baseline budget and one that reflects a 5% reduction to the base. In addition to the organizational budgets, commissioners were asked to submit new initiatives that would result in cost savings to the state and that reflect the Governor's priorities and cooperation among agencies. Minnesota Housing was considering four, said Tingerthal, including:
- With DEED, an initiative to provide housing in job growth areas.
- With the Department of Education, an initiative to stabilize the housing situation of highly mobile, poorly housed, or homeless families and thereby increase school attendance and performance.
- With the Department of Health, additional dollars for lead remediation following home assessments.
- With the Department of Corrections, an initiative to ensure that people exiting correctional facilities can secure housing.
Tingerthal said that the Agency needs to submit its ideas by mid-October and expects to hear back on these proposals no earlier than mid-November.
Affordable Housing Plan Approved
As expected, the board approved the $874 million 2013 Affordable Housing Plan presented by staff. Only one was change made by the Board, which allows the Board to retain approval of allocations from the Strategic Priority Contingency Fund. John Patterson, Director of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation, said that just a few changes had been made since the presentation of the draft in August. The most significant budget addition was a $60 million increase to the LMIR rental loan program. Patterson said that, with low interest rates, the Agency was getting numerous requests from developers seeking to pair Agency LMIR financing with 4% federal housing tax credits.