Friday, January 8, 2010

Greater Minnesota Housing Fund

by Maddi Frick

Warren Hanson, the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund spoke with Scott Hall and Chad Haatvedt on the Morning Show about his organization and the projects in progress. The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) was created in 1996 in collaboration with The McKnight Foundation and the Blandin Foundation to address the needs of affordable housing in Greater Minnesota.

Since its creation, the foundation has helped create 8500 units of affordable housing. GMHF tries to target their assistance to individuals and families who make 60-80% median income and below, including those who are homeless up to approximately $40,00 yearly income.

Private housing does provide many opportunities for affordable housing, but GMHF looks to combine charitable dollars with state and federal money to improve the housing stock, add to the supply, and stimulate private housing development, including community development. Hanson says affordable housing does attract businesses and industrial development because if affordable housing is not available, businesses will often look elsewhere to develop.

In collaboration with Black Bear Homes Inc., they are currently developing a two-block area by Crystal Lake in Grand Rapids into neo-traditional style houses.

A project in beginning stages is the development of the old Grand Itasca Hospital sight into apartments, townhomes, and single family homes surrounding the area.

GMHF is also working with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency to create the Virginia Youth Foyer Project, an apartment housing complex to house youth ages 13-21 who are homeless, many of them no longer in the foster care system. This idea of collective living, housing, and community for youth supports those with a challenged early life in continuing their education and developing life goals.

GMHF commissioned six photojournalists to document the lives of homeless veterans in Minnesota. An exhibit of selected photographs entitled “Portraits of Home II” will be at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids during the month of January.

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