Million dollar grant from Blandin Foundation is aimed at developing more housing

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Blandin Foundation has awarded a $1 million, three-year grant to the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund to launch a comprehensive rural housing project designed to address the Grand Rapids and Leech Lake areas’ acute housing challenges.

The project will build or preserve more than 400 units and address the entire housing system, from updating all types of housing stock, to boosting community understanding of the need and benefits of a healthy housing sector that serves all residents.  

“People in our region face some of the toughest obstacles to finding housing in the state,” said Tuleah Palmer, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “The real opportunity with this grant is to apply the many lessons GMHF has gained over decades of working in rural Minnesota. Their work will shift from focusing on housing dynamics in distinct communities to how the housing system is serving the region’s needs. That requires a new framework of regional coordination and leadership.” 

The money will allow the Housing Fund folks to hire someone to work on this project specifically.

Collaboration will be a cornerstone of the work. GMHF will bring together employers, elected officials, civic leaders and others to set shared goals and the community-centered action to meet them. These will anchor work on planning projects, seeking financing locally and beyond, and equipping people to share how affordable housing makes positive contributions to community life. 

GMHF will leverage its own capital to invest in these projects. GMHF will also assist local leaders in exploring innovative ideas to better meet housing needs. Models like tenant ownership, land trust models and creative financing for developments in smaller rural communities create opportunities to put home ownership within reach for more households. More homeowners lead to more stable local economies.