On December 11, the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) announced that it will direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make annual payments into the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF). FHFA Director Mel Watt sent letters notifying both entities of his agency’s decision to lift the temporary suspension of mandatory payments to the funds. This should eventually result in Minnesota receive $5 million annually for affordable housing.
"We celebrate the culmination of years of work by people across Minnesota and the entire nation in advocating for the working people, children, and grandparents who need safe housing they can afford," Chip Halbach, Executive director of MHP, said. The NHTF is important now as federal housing budgets continue to shrink. This month, Congress will likely pass a budget that further cuts other housing program budgets. Many are at risk of homelessness as a result.
The NHTF and CMF are meant to address the housing needs of lowest-income families.
When reporting on affordable housing development, traditional media outlets often miss the opportunity to report the “story behind the story”— the narrative of the people who make development possible. MHP’s Impact Spotlight looks beyond the likely narrative of “units created” and “statistics show” to the stories of collaboration that make affordable housing happen.
MHP’s newest Impact Spotlight, released this week, features a team in Grand Rapids, Minn. and the collaborative inspiration behind Beacon Hill, a supportive housing development set to break ground in spring 2015. This development will fill a large regional gap in meeting the needs of those barred from traditional housing due to criminal records, substance abuse histories, or struggles with mental health issues.
The November Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Meeting covered topics ranging from staffing changes (though not in the Commissioner position), changes to eligibility criteria for the Step Up mortgage program, and budget proposals for next legislative session. A progress report on the 2014 Affordable Housing Plan revealed that the Agency is exceeding its goals for mortgages to households of color in 2014.
“What were we worried about?” is what affordable housing developers tend to hear from community members once they meet their new neighbors and see a housing development completed. But getting to that point requires developers first to build relationships and engage communities in smart conversations about affordable housing.
At a recent MHP Investors Council event, developers shared their perspectives on gaining public support for affordable rental and ownership housing in suburban communities.