Dec 21, 2022

2022 Year in Review

Family Housing Fund began 2022 with a refreshed strategic framework that prioritizes:

  • Achieving racial equity in all aspects of the housing continuum
  • Dynamic engagement with community partners who inform our work at every step
  • Big bets on promising interventions with the potential to transform systems

Our refreshed strategic plan guided our work in 2022 to expand access to housing opportunities, increase the supply of quality, affordable homes, and activate more housing champions. As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the highlights of our work and the progress we made towards building a stronger, more just housing system that supports access to safe and affordable homes for everyone.

Building Equity in Small Multifamily Ownership

2022 marked the second full year of our Building Equity in Small Multifamily Ownership initiative, which aims to reduce Minnesota’s stark racial disparities in homeownership and wealth by helping BIPOC households build wealth as owner-occupants of properties with 2 to 4 units. We continued working with a collaborative of partners to address the constrained supply of 2-4 unit properties, deliver owner-occupant training to interested renters, and provide financial support to homebuyers.

To date, 43 households have purchased homes through the Building Equity Collaborative’s Down Payment Assistance Loan program, 75% of whom identify has Black or African American. Additionally, 170 individuals received at least one type of owner-occupant landlord training through the Building Equity initiative.

In 2022, we began offering two new post-purchase support programs under the Building Equity initiative to help sustain long-term homeowner success:  

  • A matched savings pilot program, in partnership with Prepare + Prosper, helps new homeowners build up their reserves after purchasing a 2-4 unit property.
  • A post-purchase loan fund, administered by Center for Energy and Environment, offers zero-interest loans to help owner-occupants make necessary home repairs.

FHFund is working to increase awareness of the resources available in the Building Equity initiative and expanding our impact in the coming year. Together with our partners, we are focused on utilizing what we learn from this body of work to influence broader systems change. We look forward to sharing a more in-depth progress report on this initiative early next year.

Architectural plans to support new infill development

Complementing the goals of the Building Equity initiative, we created three sets of construction plans that local developers may use for free to build new, energy-efficient duplexes on a typical Minneapolis or Saint Paul lot. Our goal is to help reduce construction costs and encourage the development of small multifamily buildings. Increasing the supply of this housing stock will create more homeownership opportunities for households who aspire to build wealth as owner-occupant landlords. Rising construction costs have made the development of affordable homeownership options even more challenging. By providing these designs, we aim to improve the feasibility of small multifamily development, especially for emerging, BIPOC-led developers growing their businesses.

To further support this approach to increasing “gentle density,” FHFund also published an ADU Idea Book for Mid-Century Homes, which helps homeowners envision how an Accessory Dwelling Unit can fit into their properties and their neighborhoods. Though they can be challenging to build, ADUs can help families meet their housing needs and can offer affordable rental options in areas where exclusive zoning policies have historically prevented housing opportunities for BIPOC and low-income renters. Our ADU Idea Book includes six architectural designs and sample budgets for six hypothetical ADUs, using real mid-century homes in suburban communities as case studies. We encourage homeowners to use these designs as a starting point for their own ADU project.

Supporting housing stability and preventing displacement

Early in 2022, FHFund continued administering Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) dollars through the Zero Balance Project, in partnership with HousingLink, CliftonLarsonAllen, and five local jurisdictions. In this program, landlords initiated the assistance application on behalf of tenants in order to streamline the application process and relieve some of the burden from renters in crisis. In total, the Zero Balance Project disbursed over $31 million of rent assistance, stabilizing housing for more than 4,000 renter households. The majority of renters served by the Zero Balance Project identified as BIPOC, reflecting our region’s longstanding racial disparities in housing stability as well as the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on BIPOC renters.

At the same time, we continued working with district Courts and service partners across the Twin Cities to coordinate a regional eviction prevention strategy as eviction filings rose dramatically in 2022. Housing Court Clinics continued to provide legal, mediation, social, and financial services to renters during eviction proceedings at the Ramsey, Anoka, and Dakota County Courts. As the last protections of the statewide eviction moratorium ended in 2022, our partners helped prevent evictions for hundreds of renter households.

Reflecting on all that we have learned from our work to administer rental assistance and prevent evictions, FHFund began planning a collaborative process to improve emergency financial assistance programs in our region. We see a historic opportunity to apply pandemic learnings to the permanent emergency financial assistance system and create stronger safety net that effectively preserves housing for families in crisis. Together with many partners, stakeholders, and individuals with lived experience of housing instability, we believe we can co-design a unified vision for a better system and begin working toward the necessary process and policy changes that will make that vision a reality. We are excited to dig deeper into this work in the coming year.

Examining renter experiences in institutional investor-owned homes

A 2021 report by the Urban Institute (“Who Owns the Twin Cities? An Analysis of Racialized Ownership Trends in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties”) found that housing in our region is increasingly owned by corporate investors based outside of Minnesota, and that these investors disproportionately purchase distressed single-family homes in neighborhoods with high BIPOC populations.

Building on the Urban Institute’s findings, FHFund launched a new research project in 2022 to survey renters who live in corporate-owned single-family rental homes and learn about their experiences. Our goal is to deepen our understanding of the impacts of this market shift and produce data that will inform changes to local policy or regulation. We aim to learn:

  • What is the experience of residents – particularly BIPOC households – living in corporate-owned single-family rentals (SFRs)?
  • Are there trends in habitability or management that threaten the housing stability, health, or financial well-being of renters in corporate-owned SFRs?
  • How should local policy respond to these community conditions and the rise of corporate-owned SFRs?

The first phase of the project will focus on engaging renters in two north Minneapolis zip codes that have seen dramatic rises in corporate investor ownership. FHFund has partnered with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (IX) to help us conduct this work, also collaborating with the City of Minneapolis to inform the project. We will begin collecting data early in 2023.

FHFund is planning to conduct a second and third phase of this research project in Saint Paul and Bloomington. We look forward to sharing more about this work in the coming year.

Looking ahead

As we look to 2023, we are excited to continue implementing our refreshed strategic framework. While our region continues to face great housing challenges, we believe that by working together, we can build a housing system that ensures everyone has a home. We are deeply thankful for all of the many partners and funders who make our work possible.

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