The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is about helping put Minnesotans into the homes they need and want. In particular, the state’s Economic Development and Housing Challenge Fund (aka the Challenge Fund) is designed to meet the housing needs of workforce communities across the state, and nearly all working households in these communities fit income guidelines for this flexible, proven and feasible affordable housing program.
The Challenge Fund provides the infrastructure needed to serve working households through both affordable rental and homeownership options. In other words, it helps provide relief for households currently paying too much of their paycheck toward their place to live, as well as for the construction of certain types of housing hardworking Minnesotans need but don’t have enough of to choose from at this time.
In 2014, nearly 575,000 Minnesotans were “cost burdened,” paying more than 30% of their income for housing. While jobs are plentiful, some employers are having a difficult time recruiting and retaining employees because there’s a housing shortage when it comes to affordable housing which doesn’t eat up a working person’s paycheck.
The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Employment and Economic Development are currently working together to identify workforce hotspots across the state in need of nice, ideally located, affordable housing units close to where jobs are. These “hotspots” are located within 10 miles of a city with job growth and/or within 10 miles of a long commute community. There are about 77 of these types of communities which could stand to add between 4,500 and 7,500 rental units/affordable housing.
The Challenge Fund is smartly set up to quickly allocate funding to provide diverse housing solutions across the state. The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency plays a key role in this in order to ensure that job growth is not hindered by a lack of housing. The initiative is leveraging employer contributions, philanthropic dollars, and direct investment from local communities around the state to meet goals and continue to make Minnesota an attractive, affordable place to both live and work.