Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA)
The Hennepin County Commission engages in a variety of boards, committees, and authorities in order to complete the breadth and depth of Hennepin’s mission. One of these is the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which I describe as working at the intersection of three important areas:
Workforce Development – Do people have access to a quality job at a living wage?
Housing Development – With that income, do they have a safe and affordable play to live?
Economic Development – After working one or more jobs, do they have discretionary funds, and are there places to spend these funds close to where they work or live?
I am proud to serve as Chair of the HRA. Our meetings take place about monthly and you can learn more at Hennepin’s Official HRA page.
Journey to Date
The HRA was established in 1987 to serve the housing, economic development, and redevelopment needs of the Hennepin County. Over the decades, the needs have shifted and the HRA has worked to respond to these needs.
The evolution of this work is evident through the Board Briefing presentations from Hennepin County staff to the County Commission. Board Briefings are designed to engage in dialogue and feedback between staff and commissioners. They are informational and are not voting decision points.
There have been three Board Briefings on housing in the last few years, and here are the materials for each:
New Direction: Building Deeply Affordable Housing with Services
It is clear that we are in a housing crisis. 151,163 households (30% of all households) pay more than 30 percent of their income toward housing, putting them at risk of being unable to afford other basic needs like healthcare, food, transportation, and education. *See Hennepin County’s 2019 Housing Fact Sheet (PDF)
Hennepin County is uniquely positioned to invest capital toward housing for those at 30% Area Median Income ($30,000 for a 4-person household) or lower. Hennepin County is also uniquely positioned to lead at the intersection of affordable housing and human services. Our new direction aims to couple housing units with human services, to support people and families more holistically. We aim to invest $91 million to build 1,000 units with integrated services in the coming years, for those at the lowest income levels.
Engagement: Community Event and Future Action
Community need of this scale requires us all working together to be meaningfully addressed. The County’s new direction is multi-faceted and will be made stronger through active engagement from partners and community members.
On July 30, 2019, nearly 70 people from 40 organizations came together to learn more about the plan and provide early feedback on how we can ensure successful implementation in coming years. * Here is the presentation from that night (PDF)
To ensure the feedback was pointed and meaningful, we created tables for input from specific stakeholder groups: Community Advocates, Service Providers, Organized Labor, Real Estate Developers, and Public Sector Workers. Over 50 people contributed to these small-group discussions, resulting in over 2,100 minutes of dialogue (factoring in lunches and breaks, this is equivalent to a full-time work week!).
The future actions that come before the board will be embedded within budget and levy conversations, versus a single action to be voted on.