The Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation has awarded $1 million to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to preserve and repair the city’s aging public housing. Together with a $1 million investment from MPHA’s own reserves, the grant will create a $2 million “Working Capital Fund.” This fund will launch a long-term effort to assure MPHA’s 6,000 apartments, houses, and townhomes serve low-income families for decades to come.

“This initiative by a major foundation to support federally-funded housing is a rare event,” said MPHA Executive Director/CEO Greg Russ, who announced the news at today’s MPHA Board of Commissioners meeting. “We give McKnight great credit for recognizing the dramatic funding shortfalls that threaten these homes, and the essential role that MPHA’s very-low-income housing plays in the city’s housing system.” Most residents of public housing make less than 30 percent of the area median income, and pay 30 percent of their income toward rent.

MPHA faces around $130 million in major repair needs across its properties, which in 20 years will grow to $500 million under current trends. Congressional funding for public housing repairs and improvements has fallen precipitously since the 1970s. MPHA currently receives around $10 million a year for these needs via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Working Capital Fund will support in-depth structural and financial analysis of MPHA’s current needs across its 42 highrises, 199 townhouses, and 730 free-standing homes across Minneapolis. It will fund staff and specialist consultants to explore architectural and financing options—including public, nonprofit, and private sources, as well as borrowing and bonding—to inject hundreds of millions more to remodel or redevelop MPHA’s housing for the families who live there.

“The funding from McKnight also includes a specific investment in community engagement,” Russ said. “At the heart of every building—at the heart of our mission—are people: seniors, the disabled, hard-working families, and the immigrant communities that MPHA is proud to serve. These funds will drive our efforts to learn from and respond to those most affected by these decisions.” In May, MPHA’s Board of Commissioners passed a set of “Guiding Principles” that guarantee public housing residents stable rent, no loss of housing benefits, and a first right-to-return following any work on their building.

The McKnight Foundation’s grant to MPHA falls under its Region & Communities program, which includes an emphasis on “Homes for All”: affordable housing strategies and systems that increase family stability and link families to opportunities. It extends McKnight’s ongoing focus on preserving and expanding the availability of affordable housing to maintain our region’s vitality.

Contact: Jeff Horwich
MPHA Communications Manager