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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.

MPHA & FHFund team up to explore regional approach to housing vouchers

Possible partnership among metro housing authorities would mean greater mobility, opportunity, and choice for low-income families

The Family Housing Fund has awarded $300,000 over two years to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) to explore how the region’s public housing authorities can work together to provide metro-wide mobility for families with housing vouchers (also known as “Section 8”). The “Regional Mobility Initiative” will involve planning and coordination with partner PHAs, policy and operational changes, and a long-term research component to track outcomes for families.

“The structure we have in our region—with separate public housing agencies all administering their own vouchers—creates barriers for families seeking different neighborhoods and greater opportunity,” says MPHA Executive Director/CEO Greg Russ. “The core idea is to discover how agencies in the Twin Cities can collaborate to increase the ‘choice’ in the Housing Choice Voucher program.”

The initiative will become part of a national research collaboration called “Creating Moves to Opportunity” (CMTO). CMTO is a partnership of housing practitioners from 17 housing authorities and academic institutions including Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and the think-tank MDRC. Through this research partnership, Stanford economist Raj Chetty and his collaborators have found that younger children of voucher-holding families who move to low-poverty neighborhoods experience long-term improvements in education and income, along with near-term improvements in health and safety. The Twin Cities Regional Mobility Initiative will also seek to integrate researchers from the University of Minnesota to maximize local insights.

“The Regional Mobility Initiative continues to build on the dedicated work of the Family Housing Fund and collaboration among many partners that seeks to expand access and choice for families in our region,” says Family Housing Fund President Ellen Sahli. “We are pleased to be partnering with MPHA, area HRAs, and landlords on this innovative approach. This is one of a number of initiatives that we have supported with area PHA/HRAs that puts choice and opportunity at the forefront.”

FHFund Appoints Three New Board Members

At the Family Housing Fund’s (FHFund) 2017 Annual Meeting on April 13th, the Board of Directors elected new officers for the upcoming year. All of the elections and appointments embody the strong public-private partnerships that are necessary to meet the FHFund’s vision that all families will have a home they can afford and a place from which they can prosper and contribute to the larger community.

Jim Roth, Executive Director of Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, was elected to a new three-year term and as the Chair of the Board. Roth has served on the FHFund Board since 2011.

Charles Hanley, Vice President/District Manager at U.S. Bank, was reelected as Vice-President/Treasurer. The Metropolitan Council appointed Hanley to the Board in 2006.

Senta Leff, Executive Director of Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless; Kristin Beckmann, Deputy Mayor – City of St Paul; and George Stone, Director – Minnesota CSH were elected as Vice Presidents of the Board. The City of Minneapolis appointed Leff to the Board in 2015; she Chairs the Resource Development Committee. The City of St. Paul appointed Beckmann to the Board in 2014; she Chairs the Nominating Committee. Stone has served on the Board since 2005 and was elected to a new three-year term at the Annual Meeting.

Miko Salone, FHFund Office Manager and Executive Assistant, was reelected as Secretary, a nonvoting role.

The Board also elected Doug Van Metre, Lead Regional Credit Officer at Wells Fargo, to a new three-year term. Van Meter has served on the Board since 2014.

The Board also elected two new members: Jennifer Anderson, Senior Vice President and CFO at Community Reinvestment Fund, and Nichol Beckstrand, President at Sunrise Banks.

The Board recognized Metropolitan Council Chairman Adam Duininck’s appointment of Gail Dorfman, Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Human Services, for a three-year term.

The Board and staff gratefully acknowledged the contributions of three departing members. Maureen Warren, Vice President and Chief Family Services Officer at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, left the Board after nine years of service. Warren had served as the Board Chair since 2011. Paul Williams, President and CEO at Project for Pride in Living, Inc., left the position of Vice President of the Board after 16 years of service. Peter Lindstrom, Mayor of Falcon Heights, left the Board after three years of service.

The FHFund Board can have up to 24 members. As a supporting organization of government, the FHFund Board is made up of both elected and appointed members. The FHFund Board elects eight members. The City of Minneapolis, City of St. Paul, Metropolitan Council, and Minnesota Housing appoint four members each. The Board recognizes these appointments. This unique structure positions the FHFund with the broad support and expertise necessary to help communities meet their affordable housing needs.

For more information and a complete list of members of the Board of Directors, please visit our Staff and Board page.

April 18th, 2017|FHFund News, Press Release|

Family Housing Fund Names Ellen Sahli as President (Press Release)

Chicago housing leader to head Twin Cities housing intermediary

Minneapolis, MN | November 20, 2015 – The Family Housing Fund (FHFund) is excited to announce the appointment of its new president, Ellen Sahli. Sahli, who will join the organization on November 30, brings more than 25 years of experience in housing, community development, and social services to the Twin Cities organization.

As a housing intermediary, funder, convener, facilitator, and educator, FHFund’s work is wide-ranging. “Ellen brings the necessary experience in the affordable housing system, finance, place-making, and collaboration needed to lead the Family Housing Fund,” says FHFund Board Chair Maureen Warren. “Her knowledge, coupled with her creativity and energy, will be a real strength for us, as we implement our 2015-2019 Strategic Framework.”

Sahli joins the Family Housing Fund after serving as Chief Housing Officer at the Chicago Housing Authority. In addition to overseeing the operations that ensured quality affordable housing and social services, Sahli worked through public-private partnerships to achieve the Housing Authority’s strategic plan to transform Chicago’s public housing.

Prior to joining the Chicago Housing Authority, Sahli honed her place-making skills as Assistant Vice President at the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. Sahli worked with neighbors and elected officials on new University projects and earned recognition from community organizations for collaborative efforts.

Sahli also brings important experience from city government to the FHFund. Prior to the her work at the University of Chicago, Sahli worked for the City of Chicago for 12 years, including serving as Chicago’s Department of Housing Commissioner, her tenure starting as the foreclosure crisis hit Chicago. Her leadership positioned Chicago as a national example of foreclosure remediation, securing the largest award of federal funds in the country and working collaboratively with nonprofit developers, neighborhood organizations, and teams of lenders.

Sahli also served as the lead for the City of Chicago’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness and played a leadership role in the exponential growth of the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund, a locally funded rental subsidy program serving very low income Chicagoans.

Beginning her career in social services, working with homeless individuals, Sahli later moved to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, where she began to pursue systems level change to support the housing needs of Chicago’s residents. Trained as a social worker, Sahli says she “came to housing through people,” and that is what continues to motivate her work today. “I am excited to join an organization with such a strong reputation and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Sahli. “I look forward to building on the Family Housing Fund’s impressive history.”

Sahli succeeds Thomas Fulton who retired in August 2015, after serving as the President of the Family Housing Fund since its founding in 1980. Elizabeth Ryan, who served as Interim President during the transition, will return to her role as Vice President of the Family Housing Fund.

November 20th, 2015|Press Release|