What does fair housing and equity mean outside the urban core and in rural areas without visible concentrations of race and poverty? In the rural regions where MHP worked as a capacity-builder under the Sustainable Communities Initiative, federal grantees struggled with this question as they faced a requirement to conduct a “fair housing and equity assessment” designed for large metropolitan areas rather than small towns, agricultural regions and American Indian reservations.
The lessons learned by MHP partners from addressing this question are especially relevant as the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implements a set of new requirements for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing for all HUD funding program recipients.
Last month, Minnesota Housing awarded $92 million for affordable housing development projects across the state. These investments will finance new construction and rehabilitation of single family and multifamily housing projects, increasing affordable housing options for Minnesota families.
$92 million of investment in affordable housing will have a significant impact for the over 120,000 cost-burdened Minnesota families (those spending 30% or more of their annual incomes on housing). However, there was a significant reduction this year in total funding awarded to multifamily projects due to a reduction in Housing Infrastructure Bond (HIB) proceeds and Housing and Job Growth Initiative funding. The reduction in HIB funding also means projects will leverage $61 million less in private equity from four percent tax credits this year as compared to last year. Accordingly, Minnesota Housing will fund 1,090 units this year compared to 3,423 units in 2014.
United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro engaged housing advocates in a lively discussion about the future of affordable housing in the Twin Cities at a forum on October 30. Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) hosted the event, which was held at Mayflower Church in Minneapolis. The forum generated discussion on issues of mobility, property management and efforts to secure additional resources for affordable housing.
“Affordable housing is a platform for success.” - Secretary Castro
In her opening remarks at the Agency's October Board Meeting, Commissioner Mary Tingerthal stated that the board would soon be making the annual project funding awards. Once this was done she and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith would be in Rochester for an announcement of the awards. Tingerthal commented that finally the media was giving this commitment of funding the attention it deserves.
Tingerthal also reported that the Agency received three recognition awards at this year’s National Council of State Housing Agencies event. The national association recognized Minnesota Housing for its Housing and Jobs Initiative, the Community Fix-up Fund, and the registry used to connect homeless veterans to housing and other services.