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Housing Counts 2015 Data Set Released

Since 2002, the Family Housing Fund and HousingLink have published the Housing Counts data set to provide housing leaders and other stakeholders an accurate and consistent way of tracking affordable housing (rental and homeownership) production and preservation in the seven-county Twin Cities region. Starting with 2002, the Housing Counts report includes an annual accounting of Minneapolis and Saint Paul affordable housing projects for which funding closed in the given year. Starting in 2004, affordable housing housing production and preservation is tracked for the balance of the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. Please note that developments that are designed specifically to serve seniors are indicated with an asterisk in the reports.

Each year, the list of projects identifies how many affordable units are planned/preserved at three levels of affordability—30 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). This corresponds with affordability restrictions required by certain funding streams and allows for a more detailed tracking of who is being served by the units. Limiting the report to projects targeted at these AMI levels provides the clearest sense of the housing options available to households at the lowest levels of income. As a result, units targeted at households earning 80 to 120 percent of AMI have not been included, although we recognize that these units are a critical resource for low income and working families.

It is important to recognize that when tracking new production and/or preservation of affordable housing, there are several points in time when a unit could be “counted.” HousingLink and the Family Housing Fund have chosen to count units in the year their funding first closes for two primary reasons. First, when the financing closes, one can be reasonably assured that the project will come to fruition. If we counted units when the funding was first committed, projects are still at relatively high risk for unforeseen circumstances, cancellation, or significant changes to the scope of a deal. Second, counting at funding closing “gives credit when credit is due,” since it is the closest point in time to when decision-makers commit to the project moving forward. If we waited to count the units when construction of the project is completed or the building is occupied, it could be a year, two years, or even more after closing.

Only developments with public and/or private capital funding that includes affordability obligations are listed. It is important to note that rental assistance to renters and financial assistance to home buyers are not tracked. Furthermore, ownership units are counted only when there is capital and/or value gap financing involved rather than as a result of affordability gap financing. Please note that shelter beds are not included in the charts and tables. While providing emergency shelter is an important part of addressing homelessness in our community, shelter beds are neither “units” nor a lasting housing solution for low-income individuals and families.

The report tables also divide the projects into three main categories: new production of rental units, new production of homeownership units, and preservation/stabilization of existing rental units. Properties included on the preservation/stabilization list are those that were especially at risk of being lost due to major deterioration, financial crisis, or conversion to market-rate rents. It is important to note that this list does not include the essential routine capital improvements that also contribute to the ongoing viability of properties.

Furthermore, readers should bear in mind that the need for preservation of existing properties varies considerably from year to year. Factors that affect the timing of resources needed for this purpose include the age and condition of properties, the expiration date of use restrictions, the assembly of stabilization packages by multiple funders, etc. Any given year’s preservation activity is no indication of past or future commitments.

Finally, to provide a sense of the overall state of affordable housing throughout the seven-county metropolitan area, Housing Counts also includes the following two statistics:

  • The number of demolition permits issued each year in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This number is included to give some context to the production numbers because real progress can only be tracked in relation to the number of units lost. However, it is vital to note that the demolition number comes from demolition permit issues only; because of this, the actual number of units lost, the affordability level, and the condition of these lost units is unknown. While some of the units lost to demolition are affordable units, some may have been substandard or vacant, and others market-rate. It is an imperfect measure, but we felt it was important to report demolitions in order to maintain the visibility of this important counterforce to affordable housing development.
  • A summary of the units converted to market-rate in the suburbs. As with the demolition permit count, this number gives context to the current state of affordable housing. The conversion of these units from affordable to market-rate has a significant effect on the overall supply of affordable units in the metropolitan area.

View Housing Counts 2015 (PDF)

View Housing Counts 2002-2015 (PDF)

December 29th, 2016|Data, Report|

Expanded City & County Profiles from Minnesota Compass

With support from the Family Housing Fund, Wilder Research expanded the population, housing, and workforce data available in the Profiles section of Minnesota Compass.

The FHFund initiated the expansion of the Minnesota Compass Profiles to support data-driven policy and decisions that help create a vibrant region with homes for all. We hope you will explore and Share! 

December 15th, 2016|Data, Regional Housing Strategy|

Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity – Phase I Report

The Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity Project is a strategic effort of the Family Housing Fund to increase landlord participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program across the seven-county metropolitan area, especially in areas with low rates of poverty and high quality schools, in order to expand housing choice for low-income and working families. The Housing Choice Voucher program is one of the federal government’s major initiatives to serve very low-income families and is one of the more flexible resources communities have to meet unique affordable housing needs in their jurisdictions. The Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity project addresses a critical bottleneck in the complex process of a family utilizing a voucher: finding an owner of a unit that fits their needs that will accept it.

The initial phase of the Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity project, which took place from January to February 2016, consisted of a data collection process to understand the experience of larger owner/managers who operate properties in low poverty areas with the Housing Choice Voucher program. It also included conversations with public and private stakeholders to understand what is currently being done to educate owners, expand participation, and what gaps might be filled by the Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity project in Phase II.

Key Takeaways from Phase I

The owners/managers who participated in the interviews and focus groups expressed a deep desire to see the Housing Choice Voucher Program succeed. Many of them conveyed heartfelt accounts of having seen the program serve as a bridge out of poverty for working families. To enable the Housing Choice Voucher program to best serve families, families must have access to a variety of housing choices; in order to provide choice, owners of properties across the region must participate in the program. This research highlights three areas in which the Family Housing Fund and its partners can influence the number of owners that participate in the program:

Partnership: Above all else, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) must authentically partner with property owners/managers. PHA programming cannot succeed without the participation of property owners/managers throughout the region.

Discretionary Policies: While HUD sets most of the Housing Choice Voucher program requirements, PHAs have some discretion on local administration of the program. The data collected through the Owners/Managers Creating Opportunity project indicates that there are two areas of discretion that are particularly important to cultivating positive relationships with the landlords and creating choice for families.

  • Inspections: While inspections are an important necessary part of providing residents with clean, safe place to live, there are opportunities to work with owners/managers to improve the process. One solution is to provide the inspection criteria ahead of the actual inspection. Giving owners/managers a sense of what they will be judged on would allow them to be even more prepared and would likely decrease the rate of failure and re-inspection, thus saving owners and inspectors time and money.

Several owners/managers also proposed decreasing the frequency of inspections for managers with a proven track record of success. New HUD regulations give PHAs the discretion to inspect every year or every two years. Less frequent inspections could be a powerful incentive for improving property management, while making participation in the program less burdensome.

  • Exception Rents: When each PHA sets its own rent payment standards they must balance the number of families they can reasonable serve with the funds available from HUD because the local program administration is bound both by a maximum caseload and a capped federal reimbursement. If rent payment standards are low to maximize the number of people served, voucher holders may not be able to rent in certain areas where there is a slightly higher fair market rent, even if the owner/manager were willing to accept the voucher. This limits locational choice for families. In order to create more opportunity for choice for families, some PHAs have defined areas with exception rents within their jurisdiction—meaning if a voucher holder would like to rent a unit in that area, the PHA payment standard is slightly higher. In addition to providing choice for families, matching the payment standards to the fair market rent in the area acknowledges the value of owners/managers business.

Resident accountability: Owners/managers want to know that residents will be held accountable. Following best practices of agencies, like not paying out vouchers at a new unit until damages are paid to the previous owner/manager, will reassure those owners/managers that there are incentives for responsible resident behavior.

Acknowledgements

The Family Housing Fund wishes to thank those who generously shared their time and expertise. The Family Housing Fund is especially grateful to the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, including Mary Rippe, President; Lisa Marvin, Board Chair; Todd Liljenquest, Director of Government Relations; and Marty McDonough, Director of Municipal Affairs.

View the full report.

2015 Annual Report

FHF_2015AnnualReport_050516_cover

The Family Housing Fund is pleased to share its 2015 Annual Report to the Community. Thank you to the staff, board of directors, generous funders, and partners that make this work possible.

 

Read the full report here.

May 6th, 2016|FHFund News, Report|

Children’s Mental Health Pilot Evaluation

According to Wilder Research’s 2015 One-Night Survey of Homelessness, children and their parents now make up more than one-third of the state’s population experiencing homelessness and over half are experiencing long-term homelessness. The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that children experiencing homelessness exhibit four times the developmental delays and three times the rate of behavioral and emotional problems as their housed peers. These avoidable consequences set children up for life-long challenges, including homelessness as adults.

The Family Housing Fund’s Visible Child Initiative created the Children’s Mental Health Project pilot to address trauma, teach positive parenting skills, and enhance the social emotional wellbeing of homeless children through services paid for by Minnesota Medical Assistance programs. The pilot meets families where they are, by providing access to early childhood intervention and mental health services in supportive housing sites across the Twin Cities. The pilot sought to produce positive changes for young children, parents, supportive housing site staff, and lay the ground work to embed children’s mental health services within affordable housing across the region and state.

At the start of the pilot half of the children participating were identified as needing additional support for their healthy development based on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ:SE). After a year of children’s mental health services, the follow up screening indicated that only 30 percent of children needed additional support. Even when children still needed additional support, the ASQ:SE indicated that they had made progress achieving social emotional benchmarks for their age. Supportive housing staff reported that the change in parent behavior, as a result of the children’s mental health services, had the largest effect on improving children’s behavior. Through this pilot, staff and clinicians reported that parent’s gained confidence in parenting, improved their understanding of early childhood development, developed increased empathy for their children, increased their recognition of how their behavior affected their children, felt reduced stigma for mental health services, and expanded their family’s engagement in the community.

By evaluating the pilot’s effect on children and families and assessing the strengths and challenges of the pilot, Wilder Research identified several recommendations for next steps that will maintain the positive effect of this pilot. The recommendations include building a strong pool of early childhood mental health clinicians of color and increasing medical reimbursement rates for early childhood mental health services.

The evaluation of the pilot was completed by Wilder Research.

View Executive Summary

View Full Report

March 16th, 2016|Report, Visible Child Initiative|