Housing authorities will combine resources and regulatory flexibility to increase housing choice for low-income renters
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved a first-in-the-nation partnership between Minnesota’s largest public housing authorities: the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) and Metropolitan Council Housing and Redevelopment Authority (Metro HRA).
In forming the nation’s first Regional Moving to Work agency, the two housing authorities will combine efforts to make it easier for families with housing vouchers to move where they wish across the metro area, including to neighborhoods they feel offer the best chance for economic success.
“Today, low-income families with a voucher who want to move for better opportunity, employment, or affordability run into invisible lines and hurdles that make it much harder than it should be,” said MPHA Interim Executive Director Tracey Scott. “Now MPHA and Metro HRA will be able to try things no one in the country has tried before to lower those barriers and empower families to meet their goals.”
Moving to Work, or MTW, is a powerful federal designation held by just 39 U.S. housing agencies. These agencies are allowed to combine sources of funds and waive many housing regulations in the interest of their local communities.
MPHA is Minnesota’s only MTW agency. However, in 2015 Congress allowed MTW agencies to form a regional MTW agency with one or more adjacent housing authorities, extending this power to others in the interest of “efficiencies and greater housing choice for low-income persons.” MPHA and Metro HRA are the first such arrangement approved by the federal government.
Housing partnership is designed to reduce barriers
“This first-of-a-kind partnership is a giant step forward in our efforts to reduce barriers to housing that’s safe and affordable,” said Metro HRA Director Terri Smith. “Far too many residents are hampered by their inability to find stable housing. That, in turn, limits the ability of our cities and towns to grow, prosper, and thrive.
“A lot of work remains, but participating in the Moving to Work Demonstration Program, in partnership with MPHA, gives us another tool and a unique opportunity to achieve state and regional goals of ending homelessness and providing housing choices to people and families,” said Smith.
Initially, the partners expect to establish a shared pool of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and combine their administrative muscle to streamline processes and help families achieve geographic and economic mobility. Other metro area housing agencies could later choose to join the partnership.
Together, MPHA and Metro HRA serve more than 44,000 people in the Twin Cities through federal, subsidized housing programs.