In August 2017, leaders from public housing agencies across the Twin Cities metro area convened in Minneapolis for “Thinking Locally, Solving Regionally,” a study and brainstorming session to discuss how we could work together more closely to provide more mobility and opportunity for the families we serve using Housing Choice Vouchers.

We were joined by national researchers and housing officials who shared the latest research and practices. The event was an outstanding beginning to a much longer conversation–we look forward to documenting the path forward in future posts. For more flavor of the event, here is the welcome letter from the two sponsors, MPHA and the Family Housing Fund.

Welcome to “Thinking Locally, Solving Regionally!”

On behalf of our two organizations, it is our pleasure to thank you for joining in this unique event.

The outcome of the next two days—not to mention the long-term process we hope to kick off—is far from determined. We may have varying visions to align; we might encounter unforeseen challenges that will alter our course. However, we invited you all here with deep certainty about one thing: we can all achieve more by working together to meet our common mission.

The mission we share, in its simplest form, is enhance the lives of families through housing. All of us in this room work to fulfill this in our own spheres: public housing agencies within our own geographic footprints; researchers by advancing our knowledge of what works; nonprofits and community leaders by connecting funding and ideas with crucial needs.

By working ever more closely to link our efforts, we believe we can reach a level of flexibility and efficiency throughout the communities we serve that will make a measurable and meaningful differences for families. We have a two-fold purpose: first, identify how to use our best learning to create mobility options to enhance the lives of low-income families. Second, explore extending Moving to Work (MTW) status beyond Minneapolis to neighboring PHA partners. This has never been done before (Congress only recently changed the law to make it possible), and MTW offers a pathway to an unprecedented level of cooperation and control over how we use our resources. These ideas are among the many we believe will grow from this Convening.

Public housing agencies are operating at a time when our traditional channels of federal support are withering. In the face of this, we must rely on the resources that persist: our ability to connect, to innovate, and to break down barriers and create opportunity. One of our strongest resources is each other, and that is why we gratefully welcome you here today.


Greg Russ
Executive Director/CEO of MPHA

Ellen Sahli
President of the Family Housing Fund