GMHF has launched several nationally recognized initiatives: Employer Assisted Housing, Building Better Neighborhoods, Minnesota Green Communities, Minnesota Preservation Plus Initiative, and created the Minnesota Equity Fund.
These programs have changed how affordable housing is designed, built and financed, and raised the profile of Minnesota as a center of innovation and collaboration.
The role of GMHF as a source of knowledge and expertise is especially important in Greater Minnesota where geography is broad, peer-to-peer learning relationships are harder to establish, and resources for early stage solutions are fewer. GMHF has the housing program expertise to filter which ideas have real possibilities for impact or replication.
GMHF provides modest but important innovation and seed grants to new programs that serve niches in the affordable housing system not yet served, and new ideas that have yet to gain traction or full funding.
Recent examples of R&D at GMHF include the following:
- GMHF is researching the threat of loss of naturally occurring affordable housing and the opportunity for strategic acquisition and preservation. GMHF analyzed national best practices and modeled a variety of NOAH transactions to demonstrate financial feasibility. The result is the NOAH Impact Fund. GMHF collaborated with many partners in working sessions to explore the feasibility of the Fund, and to share, discuss and vet the findings before moving forward to the point where the Fund could be launched.
- GMHF has explored community facilities financing, researching the question of whether it is feasible for GMHF to invest further in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and the extent of the lending opportunities in Minnesota.
- GMHF’s recent grantmaking supported new research in using New Markets Tax Credits for land banks, development of a new Native Institute capacity building program among three tribes, and provided start-up downpayment assistance using GMHF’s new membership in the FHLB of Des Moines.
- GMHF supported a pilot HRA Merger Grant Program whereby GMHF is providing mergers and consolidation support among HRAs and EDAs to better stabilize these organizations and prepare them for the wave of retirements coming and the reduction in HUD funding anticipated for all HRAs statewide.
- GMHF encourages new, lower-cost housing development solutions with R&D prototype investments combined with GMHF financing with the goal of demonstrating how to effectively bend the cost curve and house more households with less subsidy. Strategies include value engineering, modular construction methods, risk-tolerant loans and equity investments that emulate private investment & replace deeper subsidies, retrofitting & rehabbing existing housing stock to save lifecycle costs, and strategically investing in acquisition and rehabilitation of unsubsidized housing in high demand areas.