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Board Member Spotlight

Board Chair Jim Roth

Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.

When I came to my current position at MCCD over 16 years ago, I had very little knowledge of or contact with the housing industry. My previous experience was in workforce development. But, as I was thrown into the role of advocate for affordable housing, I quickly learned of the many challenges our nonprofit housing members faced, and the limited resources they competed for – amongst themselves, as well as with the many for-profit developers.

I am pleased that MCCD and the many advocates collaborating at City Hall and the State Capitol over the past decade have enjoyed some successes in bringing more resources to the affordable housing industry. However, as we now all know, we are losing more affordable housing every year than we create. More and more Minnesotans are becoming cost-burdened in securing or maintaining their housing.

The need for developing new affordable housing, while preserving the existing stock is attracting greater attention these days. Advocates, along with developers, have raised the visibility of the worsening affordable housing market, and policymakers have taken notice. Local, county and state governmental agencies are stepping up, as is the business community. But we have a long challenge ahead. I appreciate the work of the Family Housing Fund in this effort, and am proud to Chair an engaged and knowledgeable Board of Directors.

Why were you interested in serving on the Family Housing Fund board?

When I came on the board in October of 2011, I was not your typical “recruited and invited” board member. Following a series of meetings between MCCD board members and Tom Fulton, the founding President of the FHF, it was agreed that MCCD should have a permanent seat on the board. The intention was to bring the nonprofit housing developer perspective to the board, and also allow for more transparency from the FHF to our members. In my mind, it’s been a win-win for both organizations.

What housing aspirations do you have for the region?

Simply put, it is my hope that one day, all residents of the region can find an affordable home in any community where they choose to live. That said, I have to admit I am not particularly optimistic that this can be achieved, but the effort to achieve that aspiration must continue.

What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?

I’m sure there are plenty of areas that people don’t think big, but that to me, doesn’t equate with failure. Scholars, researchers, private citizens can think big, and perhaps bring forward some new ideas. But big, dramatic proposals that might have merit, don’t come without risks. Speaking as an affordable housing advocate, I have to think, “What will get me the votes I need to get something enacted at City Hall or the state capitol?” Reaching too far with a big, bold policy change or appropriation request can turnoff even those electeds that care about the cause.

That’s not to say there aren’t times to make a push. But it has to be well thought out, timed well, and carried out by a credible advocacy coalition. MCCD’s Make Homes Happen Minneapolis (MHHM) is one such example.

With many of our housing members and other community advocates, MHHM set out to raise the visibility of the growing need for affordable housing in the city, and to encourage a greater commitment to fund it. By coordinating a series of candidate forums on affordable housing for city council seats and a mayoral forum during the 2017 campaign season, the group drew a good deal of media attention, as well as many strong supporters among the candidates.

Recognizing the momentum created and the opportunity presented, MHHM went “large on the ask.” For the previous 15 years, the city generally met a stated goal of $10M to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. MHHM decided the timing was right to push for $50M for 2019 — a number five times greater than any previous year, and a figure thought unrealistic by many. While the final approved amount was $40M for affordable housing, MHHM was recognized by Mayor Frey for their efforts to push him and the council.

While there was great appreciation for the city’s support within MHHM, work remains. The ultimate aim for the group is to work with the city to find a dedicated funding stream(s) to continue this level of annual commitment. To achieve that goal, MHHM will continue the strong collaboration of advocates, research funding ideas from across the country, and work closely with the city to identify possible sources.

What do you do for fun?

Biking. So right now, I’m not having much fun. ☹

February 25th, 2019|Board Member Spotlight|

For Preserving Affordability, 4d is a Win-Win

When a friend called Beth Barron last year and asked if she’d like to save $6,000 on her property tax bill, she signed up right away to become one of the first participants in the City of Minneapolis’s new “4d” Affordability Housing Incentive Program.

Even after 25 years as the owner and manager of an 11-unit apartment building near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Beth never thought of herself as a landlord. Together with the residents of her building, she is creating a community. She keeps her building in good repair but hasn’t added any luxury touches, preferring to keep rents reasonable and her residents stable. As a result, the building is an example of what’s commonly known as “naturally-occurring affordable housing,” offering moderate rents without any government assistance.

Beth believes that the 4d program is a win-win for rental property owners willing to try something new. The savings on her tax bill have come through as promised. Even better, she has been working with the City’s program partners to assess energy efficiency in her building, and may qualify for rebates and incentives that will pay for the majority of the cost of a new highly-efficient boiler and water heater.

In return for the reduction in her tax bill, Beth committed to keeping rents reasonable (no more than $1062 for a one-bedroom unit in 2019), which was already her plan, and to rent future available units to residents whose income does not exceed 60% of the Area Median Income (currently $45,300 for a household of two), over the next ten years.

The City of Minneapolis is accepting new applications for the 4d program through February 12, 2019; visit the program website to learn more.

FHFund has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions from potential participants in the program—download the latest FAQ here:

This 11-unit building near Lake of the Isles, built in 1962, is one of the first to benefit from the City of Minneapolis’s 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS New Website Design & Development

Deadline: Proposals received by 1/31/2019 will receive priority consideration.
Proposals will be accepted through 2/5/2019.

About the Family Housing Fund
The Family Housing Fund believes it takes all of us working together to build a strong system that supports access to decent, affordable homes for everyone. Established in 1980, we support the Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Metropolitan Council, and Minnesota Housing in their efforts to meet the seven-county metropolitan region’s affordable housing needs. We are unique in focusing on all facets of the housing system and working across sectors to ensure real change.

About the Project
The Family Housing Fund seeks proposals from qualified web developers to build a new website for the organization.

The Goal
The Family Housing Fund seeks to launch a new website that is consistent with its new brand identity and offers visitors both enhanced functionality and better access to relevant content. The work will also include archiving older information, adding newly developed content and merging content from our sister website The Family Housing Fund’s web address is

We are currently envisioning the following four stages of work, but we welcome applicants to recommend a different phasing structure. Regardless of how the phases are structured, please provide a detailed description of the activities, anticipated timeline, and budget for each phase.

  • Discovery and Audit of Content Needs
  • Information Architecture Development
  • Visual Design
  • Launch

Request for Proposals
Family Housing Fund is soliciting proposals for the scope of work outlined in Phase II above.

Applications must be received by 11:59 pm on Tuesday February 5, 2019. Priority will be given to applications received by 11:59 pm on Thursday January 31, 2019. The application should address the following:

  1. Describe your firm and your unique experience and expertise.
  2. Who would be assigned to this project? Include bios for all relevant personnel.
  3. Describe the phases you propose for this project and the specific activities to be completed in each phase.
  4. Describe the timeline for completing this project. Do you have any other commitments or conflicts that could conceivably interfere with your ability to deliver on this timeline?
  5. What is your approach to project management and client check-ins?
  6. What is your projected budget? Include both a spreadsheet and narrative describing the use of funds and the estimated number of hours by phase.
  7. Please include brief project summaries and contact information for at least three clients who can serve as a reference for your work.
  8. Looking at the current Family Housing Fund website, are there any elements that you especially like and think are worthy of maintaining? (It’s okay to say no!) What are your ideas for the most cost-efficient way to modernize our web presence in pursuit of our stated goal?

To Apply
Send full proposal addressing all questions outlined above to and reference “FHFund Website Proposal” in the subject line. Applications received by 11:59 pm on Thursday January 31 will receive priority consideration. Proposals will be accepted through Tuesday February 5, 2019.

If you would like to schedule a 20-minute inquiry call to inform your proposal, send an email with key questions and calendaring options to


January 23rd, 2019|FHFund News, Request For Proposal|

Minneapolis 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program for Rental Housing Owners

The City of Minneapolis 4d Affordable Housing Incentive Program is accepting applications through February 12, 2019.

The program was created in 2018 to help preserve naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH). Owners of rental housing who enroll apartments in the program receive a 40% reduction in property taxes in exchange for making a 10-year commitment to keeping rents affordable.

Detailed information about the program, and a link to the application, is available on the City of Minneapolis website.

FHFund has compiled a list of FAQs based on real questions from interested potential participants.[1]

Click here to read about the experience of a participant in the program.

[1] While the information in this document is intended to be as accurate as possible, the City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota are ultimately responsible for interpreting program rules and relevant legislation.

January 19th, 2019|Data, Fact Sheet, Report|

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|