My name is Jackie Prescott, and I'm the Executive Director at Hibbing HRA. I had the honor of speaking at the Homes for All Kickoff Event in Hibbing representing Hibbing HRA. We had a great turnout, providing us with the opportunity to educate the community on Homes for All's mission and how important it is to families throughout the State of Minnesota. We also brought to light that homelessness is not something confined to metro areas but something that happens in small towns throughout Minnesota.
The Homes for All agenda supports a critical need across our state to improve our supply of affordable housing. The total request is for $140 million in bonds to develop or preserve housing in Minnesota.
Thirty million of this bond money would be for General Obligation (GO) Bonds to preserve and improve the existing public housing in our state. The most recent awarded funds through GO Bonds was in 2014, and they had $20 million to award. “The Ask” from Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) for 2014 was $54.4 million! This demonstrates a great need for public housing improvements. These funds are for physical improvements, but there are several residual benefits of this program. In many cases, the improvements reduce operating costs and conserve water and energy as outdated and inefficient systems are replaced.
A large percentage of public housing units in Minnesota were built over 50 years ago. As funding continues to decline from the federal government, Public Housing Authorities are faced with very tough decisions. We may have to choose between replacing a leaking roof and updating a crumbling plumbing system that is years past its useful life. With GO Bonds, we are able to preserve public housing by addressing our capital needs in a shorter timeline.
Prescott (left) poses with Homes for All advocates at the Hibbing Homes for All kickoff on February 8, 2018.
In 2014, the HRA of Hibbing received funds through GO Bonds. This additional funding gave us the ability to completely replace an old elevator and install a new up-to-code fire alarm system that included installing a horn/strobe alarm in each apartment at a building serving mostly elderly and disabled families. As a result of this funding, we were able to leverage our monies to complete two projects and still have remaining funds to complete other capital needs at other complexes. Without this money, we would not have been able to complete these important projects in the same year and address the needs of other buildings in our portfolio.
The remaining $110 million of the Homes for All ask will go for Housing Infrastructure Bonds to finance affordable housing with a new eligible use to serve seniors at or below 50% area median income (AMI). These monies would help provide new affordable housing to areas with shortages of quality, safe and affordable housing.
To make our communities strong, we need Homes for All. If you want to help advocate, you can start by signing up for Homeless Day on the Hill. On March 6, 2018, over 700 advocates and community members sign up for a day of advocacy. Meet with legislators and tell them to push our agenda, and to make safe and affordable housing a priority for all Minnesotans. Find the Homeless Day on the Hill Facebook event here.
Pictured top right: Homes for All advocates pose with Mike of Mike's Pub at the Hibbing Homes for All Kickoff event.