At the December Minnesota Housing board meeting, the highlights included recognition of the hard-work of Minnesota Housing staff, an introduction of the State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness, plus funding announcements and a potential transaction with HUD.
Recognition of Minnesota Housing Staff
Commissioner Mary Tingerthal used the year-end meeting to recognize teams whose work was submitted for Governor's Continuous Improvement Awards. Despite the fact that no Agency projects were selected for an award, Tingerthal believed the work deserved recognition by herself and the board. Recognized were members of the team that restructured the processing of Section 8 rent subsidies through the use of email, thereby quickening payments to property owners and saving staff time. Members of the finance and accounting departments were recognized for pioneering the use of GNMA pass-through bonds, a financing mechanism that has proven popular with investors and is now being tapped by housing agencies across the country to provide homebuyers super-low interest rates. Also recognized was the team that guided the Agency's participation in the Federal Inspections Pilot Program. This program pertains to inspections of properties that have benefited from subsidy layering by allowing required inspections to be consolidated into a single inspection, rather than requiring one inspection for each type of funding. Finally, Jessica Deegan and John Patterson were recognized for the implementation of the Community Profiles tool.
Cathy ten Broeke, the new State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness, was introduced. In making this introduction Commissioner Tingerthal pointed out that many of the photos in the exhibit "Homeless is My Address, Not My Name" appearing at the Agency were taken by the multi-talented ten Broeke, who will begin her duties at the Agency on January 14.
Restructuring of Single Family Lending
Tingerthal announced that this December, Minnesota Housing carried out the most significant restructuring of single family lending programs in the Agency's history. With this change, the Agency will offer refinancing options in addition to first time homebuyer lending. The down payment assistance programs were also restructured to provide amortizing assistance loans, in addition to the Agency's traditional deferred loans. This change allows the Agency to tap into additional capital sources and to expand the program to allow participation of somewhat higher income borrowers.
Financing Approved for Manufactured Homes Co-op and Rental Rehab
The board gave preliminary approval for financing a resident co-op acquisition of a 50-pad manufactured housing park in Lindstrom. This financing was extended through a loan in conjunction with ROC-USA, the national cooperative program supported by Ford Foundation and others. Tingerthal pointed out that Minnesota Housing was the only state housing finance agency in the country doing this type of housing preservation work. The park conversion is being assisted locally by North Country Cooperative Foundation.
The Board approved three new grants through the Rental Rehab Deferred Loan (RRDL) program. The program supports rental housing preservation in rural communities that might not be competitive in the Agency's consolidated RFP round. With grants made to Southeastern Multi-County HRA, four new counties were added to the program. Fifty of Greater Minnesota's 80 counties will now benefit from RRDL funding. With the Agency being halfway through the two-year demonstration program, staff will provide a report to the board in February along with possible program modifications.
Agency Plans to Purchase Foreclosed Property from HUD
The Agency plans to exercise a little-used authority of state and local government housing agencies to negotiate purchase of foreclosed multi-family developments from HUD. The Board authorized the staff to use this authority for the potential acquisition of an 84-unit property in Willmar, with half of the units assisted under the Section 8 program. Tingerthal pointed out that preserving the affordability of this property was particularly important. Willmar is experiencing strong job growth while many immigrant families in the community are poorly housed. If the Agency decides to proceed with the transaction and HUD successfully acquires the property through a sheriff's sale, HUD will sell the property to the Agency, which will resell the property to Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, the proposed long-term owner.