For the past 6 months, the BNC has been working on a vision for using our remaining NRP Housing dollars provided to us by the City of Minneapolis. Early in 2017 the BNC and the other neighborhoods in the City were notified that the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, who administered many of our loan programs, would be closing it’s loan administration department. This meant that we would need to find something new to do with the remaining funding that would be released to us from GMHC. After several discussions of the Housing and Livability Committee, the BNC determined that the amount of fees at other loan administration programs in the area were too steep to justify continuing a loan program elsewhere. We then began to work on visions for grant programs administered in-house.
In July, the BNC teamed up with the St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association (SAENA) to conduct a survey of the rental properties in our two neighborhoods. We surveyed over 100 residents, both renters and landlords. That data was compiled and presented to the two boards in December. This data will be used to help shape some of the grant programs our two neighborhoods offer to residents. We want to make sure our housing dollars are accessible and equitable to all residents, whether they own the property they live in or not.
Right now, our current vision for housing dollars available for renter properties will focus on three things: energy efficiency, safety, and livability. Energy efficiency upgrades to rental properties will help save renters money because most renters in our neighborhoods pay their own utility bills. Safety has always been a priority for the BNC and we want to make sure that rental properties in our neighborhood keep renters and their possessions secure. Upgrades to locks, lights, and other safety infrastructure fit in with the security grant program that the BNC already administers. Livability fixes to property will include things such as pest control, mold and mildew remediation, leaks and other water damage. The BNC is working hard to find mechanisms that give renters agency and access to these programs. We certainly want to reward landlords who are active and aware of their residents needs, but we also want to make sure renters can still access our programs if their landlords choose not to participate.
Of course, our housing programs will not be only for renters and homeowners will be able to access funding for these things as well.
These programs are still being formed, so if you would like to be a part of the conversation, more voices are always welcome at the table. Attending our Housing and Livability Committee meetings is the best way to be a part of the process. We welcome all voices – renters, landlords, homeowners, and anyone who feels they have a stake in housing issues in our neighborhood. This committee meets every fourth Monday of the month from 6:30-7:30 at the Beltrami Park Building. Email our staff (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they can include you on reminder emails.