The December 2014 meeting of the board of Minnesota Housing in the midst of the holiday season was brief. The board discussed staffing updates and the governor’s budget, as well as reports on bond sales in 2014 and the Agency's annual risk profile.
Unemployment is down, housing construction is up, and home prices are rising, according to MHP's new 2x4 Report, released December 30. But these improvements are not spelling gains for all Minnesotans. Homelessness among families and children remains stubbornly high, the report found.
Data tracked in the 2x4 Report indicated that through the first few months of this school year, nearly 4,000 children and youth had been identified as homeless across several larger school districts, the highest number to date since data collection began for this report.
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.