We know that decent, stable housing is the linchpin for economic growth for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region. Decent housing helps kids perform better in school and helps their parents keep their jobs. It strengthens neighborhoods and encourages new business investments. Historically low vacancy rates, however, combined with stagnant wages and skyrocketing rents, are making it nearly impossible for low- and moderate-income renters to find decent housing.
That’s why a key objective of the McKnight Foundation’s Region & Communities program is to support housing strategies and systems that accelerate the production, preservation, and permanency of affordable housing. In its second-quarter 2018 grantmaking, McKnight awarded 113 grants totaling $16.1 million. Of the $16.1 million approved, $1.1 million addresses housing needs.
We highlight three of this quarter’s approved grants below; a full list of approved grants is available in our grants database.
Family Housing Fund (FHF) is a housing funder, convener, and educator, received $675,000 over 18 months. FHF works collaboratively with partners across the housing spectrum to help the affordable housing network adapt quickly to complex needs. Among other efforts, it will conduct an economic analysis to better understand the role of housing as a critical part of our regional economic competitiveness. FHF also serves on the leadership team of the Governor’s Task Force on Housing, which will offer policy recommendations to adapt our region’s housing system.
In addition, McKnight made a grant of $200,000 over two years to HOME Line, the sole statewide nonprofit tenant response organization for the thousands of Minnesota renters. HOME Line provides free and low-cost legal, organizing, educational, and advocacy services, involving tenants throughout the process and giving them the resources to resolve their housing challenges.
The third group, Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, which helps manufactured home parks become resident-owned communities, also received $200,000 over two years. Northcountry helps residents purchase their own homes and the land they occupy. It also engages and educates government, nonprofit, and elected leaders on the opportunity that manufactured housing offers for increased cost-effective housing stability.
“Now is a unique time to convert public awareness into actions that will create more stable and decent housing in order for the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region to grow,” says Debby Landesman, McKnight Foundation board chair. “Organizations like these are doing that by mobilizing constituents as diverse as renters, landlords, business leaders, and state and local officials.”
In other news, we are pleased to welcome Lue Vang as our new accountant. Lue brings great experience from his previous role as a senior accountant at CliftonLarsonAllen and his time at The Foundation for Children’s Minnesota. He also serves on the City of Saint Paul Planning Commission. Earlier, we shared that Neeraj Mehta will join us in mid-July as our new director of learning. In addition, Jenn Hall and Walter Abrego will join us next month as our International team’s new program assistants. Jenn brings experience in office management, accounting, and grants management and serves on the board of the Bdote Learning Center. Walter brings experience working with programs in Guatemala, England, Hungary, Romania, and Greece. We look forward to their arrival.