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Building on What We Have…

FHFund Releases New Resource for Prioritizing Public Lands for Affordable Housing

Download “Prioritizing Public Lands for Affordable Housing and other Public Benefits: Model Ordinances & Best Practices”

The Twin Cities region needs a full-spectrum affordable housing strategy to maintain the quality of life many enjoy and expand housing opportunities for those with low and moderate incomes. Doing more to meet housing needs requires us to think creatively and look for new opportunities to align and maximize the impact of public resources. Surplus, vacant, and underutilized public lands are precious community resources and must be part of the solution. Let’s build on what we already have.

Why focus on public lands?
In strong markets, development on public sites can expand opportunities for affordability in neighborhoods where land costs make it difficult for mission-driven developers to compete for sites. Discounting land costs for affordable housing can make projects more financially feasible and increase their likelihood of completion. In weaker markets, publicly-owned parcels can be used to catalyze development and seed revitalization activities.

What’s new about this approach?
While many public agencies have existing systems in place to redevelop or sell vacant and foreclosed properties for affordable housing, our next-stage opportunity is to assess the larger portfolio of potentially available land in the region, across agencies, and to intentionally prioritize it for affordable housing development wherever appropriate. A coordinated, regional strategy would build on the individual steps that many cities, counties and state agencies are already taking

What can we do?
Many other regions that are facing rising land costs have implemented policies to prioritize surplus or underutilized public lands for affordable housing. They point us to three clear next steps to pursue this strategy:

  1. Inventory: To understand the scale of the opportunity, we first need to inventory the sites available. Very few public agencies in the region have a complete list of their real estate assets, much less an assessment of the viability and potential of their use for affordable housing or other development.
  2. Analyze: Not all available sites are suitable for development. Analyzing sites and categorizing them based upon factors that influence their development potential, including scale, existing use, surrounding uses and neighborhood form and infrastructure needs, among other factors, is important. Working together as a region, we can assess the full picture of opportunity rather than looking one project at a time, or one agency at a time.
  3. Position for success: It is important for agencies to have clear processes and procedures, as well as appropriate staff capacity, to manage an effective asset management process that prioritizes affordable housing. In designing Requests for Proposals and other kinds of solicitations, agencies should focus on smoothing the process for affordable housing developers and providing incentives for affordability.

Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about best practices and read our model ordinance.

December 12th, 2018|FHFund News, Press Release|

Qualified Rental Housing Administrators and Receivers

In March 2018, the Family Housing Fund published a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify qualified firms to act as Court-appointed administrator or receiver within the context of certain legal actions to protect and preserve low-cost rental housing and the occupancy by residents thereof in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Through a review of applications and interviews with finalist applicants, an evaluation team identified Twin Cities firms who meet the Minimum Qualifications to perform the required Scope of Services (find full details in the link below). This list may serve as a resource for the Courts, local governments, and other housing stakeholders in the Twin Cities region. Inclusion on the list in no way implies an endorsement of any firm.

What’s inside the document:

  • List of 6 qualified firms summarizing expertise and contact information.
  • Review Process and Evaluation Team
  • Scope of Services required by the RFQ process
  • Minimum Qualifications required by the RFQ process
  • Future Opportunities to Apply
  • Family Housing Fund mission

Leading on Housing

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey campaigned on a promise to address the city’s affordable housing crisis. In May, he announced an ambitious plan to deliver on his campaign promise and yesterday, we saw his plan take shape in his first proposed budget for 2019.

We commend the Mayor for his leadership to dramatically increase funding for affordable housing. His proposed 2019 budget recognizes that we need many tools in our toolbox to combat the housing challenges that many of our city’s residents experience. Mayor Frey’s specific commitments include $40 million of City funds – combined with an additional $10 million of state and federal funds – directed toward affordable housing. This includes:

  • 21.6 million towards the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • 3.4 million towards Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing Preservation
  • 5 million towards affordable homeownership on City owned lots
  • 3.3 million towards Stable Homes, Stable Schools, a collaboration with Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Housing and Hennepin county to stabilize kids and their families

In his remarks, Mayor Frey said, “The reality is that we can’t put affordable housing investments off til tomorrow because tomorrow is too late.” We couldn’t agree more.

A Budget that Values Affordable Housing


Communities across the Twin Cities region are struggling with rising rents, tight vacancy rates and high home prices – putting the squeeze on individual households and putting at risk our collective regional competitiveness. The Family Housing Fund recognizes that a single tool or approach alone will not solve these complex problems. We work with leaders and communities, using every tool possible to make quality, affordable housing accessible in every community.

In his first budget address, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter yesterday proposed a substantial investment in housing production, preservation and protection. We commend the Mayor for making housing the centerpiece of his budget. His proposal includes a new Housing Trust Fund supported by a $10 million initial investment followed by ongoing annual investments in future years to support homeowners and renters alike. Specific components include:

  • New housing units for households at 30–50 % AMI (or $28,300 – $47,150 for a family of four)
  • Preservation of existing federally-assisted subsidized housing and naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH)
  • Expanded tenant protections to address the disparate impact of some tenant screening practices along with administrative tools to minimize tenant displacement in cases where housing quality is compromised

The July 2018 report Market Watch: Saint Paul, published by the Minnesota Housing Partnership, highlights trends impacting Saint Paul residents. The report noted that 59 percent of the almost 60,000 renter households in Saint Paul earn less than 60 percent AMI and yet their rents are steadily rising. These statistics were echoed in the stories that the Mayor heard from residents, who listed affordable housing as their highest budgetary priority for the city.

In his remarks last night, Mayor Carter explained that, “We have to think of the budget not as a numbers document, but as a values document.” His proposal for substantial housing investment shows that he hears his constituents and understands the real pain that many in the city are experiencing due to the lack of affordable housing. We stand ready to support him in making Saint Paul a city where all residents can thrive.