New Staff Spotlight: Jordan Backstrom
Tell us about your background and why you care about expanding housing opportunities.
I initially started my career in housing and community development because of how important stable housing was in my own life. I grew up in a family that certainly had our fair share of challenges. Through all those tough and occasionally chaotic times though, we always had the house I grew up in. It was tiny, there were a lot of us in there, and as kids we beat the heck out of that house. But it was always there! I always had that place to call home. As my career in housing and community development has spanned different service programs and organizations, the throughline for me has always been the idea of stable and secure housing as the solid base that allows families to build community, build wealth, and explore further opportunities for success.
Why were you interested in joining the Family Housing Fund?
My previous position was with a nation-wide organization where I worked with community-based housing groups across the country. As much as I loved being able to dive into and help develop housing strategies in those different communities, I definitely missed being more tapped into the housing ecosystem here in Minnesota. The collaborative work of the Family Housing Fund is at the center of so much here, and I’m incredibly excited to dive in and start exploring innovative solutions to housing issues in the Twin Cities.
What housing aspirations do you have for the region?
I’ve always been a proud Minnesotan, but that pride certainly gets challenged when confronted with the incredible disparities we see in homeownership, housing stability, and wealth here. I want to live in a place that directly addresses those disparities, that truly welcomes all, and where everyone has a place to call home.
What is one area where you think people generally fail to think big enough – and what is your vision for change?
In general, I’d love for people to think beyond the status quo. With homeownership for example, I think so many people have an idea of what the “traditional” path to homeownership looks like, which in some cases can lead to people writing themselves off right away. In reality, there are many different models, property types, and ownership structures that can or already exist. We need to grow those other options to be seen as more than a niche or quirky alternative and allow potential homebuyers to select the model that best fits their family and their goals.
What do you do for fun?
I grew up in restaurants, met my wife while working in a high-end kitchen, and seriously considered a career as a chef for a bit. Now, a lot of my free time is spent cooking and generally thinking about food. Beyond that, we have a couple of rescue dogs, Bean and Billy, that can be an absolute handful. If there’s any time left over after food and dogs, I try to get in as much basketball and volleyball as I can.