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.
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.
During the Wilder Research triennial Statewide Homeless Survey in 2012, researchers interviewed 207 homeless young parents (age 21 or younger), who accounted for 29 percent of all homeless youth in Minnesota. This population of homeless youth is often unable to access resources because they are too young to meet the requirements for services intended for homeless families, and, at the same time, they are ineligible for services for homeless youth because they have their own children. The unintended consequences of well-intentioned policy had left this highly vulnerable group to fend for themselves at a time when the cognitive skills of young parents have not fully matured. The Family Housing Fund’s Visible Child Initiative committed to a discovery process to understand the needs and status of homeless adolescent parents and their children.
Through a series of interviews with 15 service providers and two focus groups with homeless or formerly homeless adolescent parents safety, stability, education, and employment were identified as key goals goal for homeless young parents. However, both groups noted that age and childcare challenges often stand in the way of achieving young parents’ goals, despite the mainstream resources that are supposed to support them. Housing was discussed by both groups as one component of stability, and it was noted that shelter and supportive housing is not designed for and often will not accept parenting youth, especially youth that are under age 18.
Based on the discovery project the Family Housing Fund’s Visible Child Initiative supports Minnesota’s Heading Home 2016-2017 plan to prevent and end homelessness. Specifically related to homeless adolescent parents, the Visible Child Initiative recommends developing support of front line staff working with homeless parenting youth and their children, increase housing opportunities for parent youth who are under age 16, and increasing the connection between and ease of access for mainstream support services.
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:
View Housing Counts 2013 (Updated) – Housing Counts 2013 (published November 2014) mistakenly omitted a suburban rental project, it has been corrected for in this updated Housing Counts 2013 and the correction carries forward to Housing Counts 2014.
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.