Building Better Neighborhoods

Strengthening Minnesota’s Traditional Neighborhoods

Program Goal: Stabilize and revitalize Minnesota’s traditional mixed-income neighborhoods.

In the early 2000s, Minnesota was in the middle of a housing crisis – one marked by strong job growth and high housing costs. In this environment, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund launched the Building Better Neighborhoods program, which provided practical solutions for increasing the supply of affordable housing while reviving traditional and compact neighborhood design with better access to services and amenities.

The concepts of Building Better Neighborhoods are captured in GMHF’s in-depth book, Building Better Neighborhoods.

Green Home Plans

The set of six Craftsmen style home plans, available to download at no cost, were developed in 2001 to complement GMHF’s acclaimed neighborhood design book, Building Better Neighborhoods. GMHF consulted with Cermak Rhoades Architects to develop home designs that would complement the other neighborhood design strategies promoted in the book.

Since the initial plans were developed GMHF helped launch the Minnesota Green Communities program in 2005. The plans have undergone several revisions, the most recent in 2017, to keep up with the latest Green Communities requirements and revisions to Minnesota state energy codes.

Download the plans:


Also see: Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods

Since Building Better Neighborhoods was published, small cities and towns have had to pull themselves out of a crisis of disinvestment in their traditional neighborhoods during the Great Recession. Communities have had to recover from the lack of investment with the goal of becoming economically stable and healthy.

Greater Minnesota Housing Fund’s latest Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods program now focuses on offering the essential tools, techniques and special funding needed to stabilize and rebuild core neighborhoods. In this area GMHF is focusing particularly on core downtown Main Street revitalization in existing neighborhoods. The Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods program emphasizes methods for:

  • Targeted neighborhood-based planning and design.
  • Green and healthy home rehabilitation.
  • Strategic demolition of blighted properties.
  • Well designed new “infill” homes.
  • Attractive mixed-use redevelopment projects.
  • Stimulation of private sector reinvestment.
  • Formation of public-private partnerships.

In 2019 GMHF released Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods, an overview of innovative projects across Minnesota.

Colorful banner image featuring the skyline that you might typically see in a small city or town in Greater Minnesota.