Minnesota has a reputation for excellence in public systems -- an excellence that some believe is overshadowed as other states also advance more innovations. Not so in affordable housing. Minnesota has developed an affordable housing sector considered by many to be second to none, starting with sound stewardship by the state housing agency and extending to intermediaries who push and prod to engage and address challenges as they arise, local and regional government leaders committed to creating affordable housing, and a host of community-based organizations that both produce and advocate for affordable housing -- all underpinned by generous philanthropy that very early on recognized the importance of stable and affordable housing to the success of families.
Moreover, the state's sector has a clear vision of affordable housing: it is not just a structure in which to live, but a platform to increase family stability and link families to opportunities through access to transportation, education, employment and healthy lifestyles. In Minnesota, affordable housing also strives to be energy efficient and green.
Yet at this moment when our state's affordable housing sector is as fully realized as ever, various economic, demographic, and political forces have converged to make "homes for all" even more elusive. If we had unlimited resources, our solution might be clear: simply ramp up production. But we live in a resource-constrained world, driven by questions about whether every dollar is used for the maximum benefit of people served.
Our presenting question then is this: With Minnesota's strong affordable housing sector in an unprecedented position to advance its work, can our current "best practices" meet the needs of the future -- or is some fundamental restructuring in order?