The MN Challenge to Lower the Cost of Affordable Housing is an idea competition co-sponsored by Minnesota Housing, the McKnight Foundation, Urban Land Institute of Minnesota (ULI-MN)/ Regional Council of Mayors (RCM), and Enterprise Community Partners. The goal of the MN Challenge is to support innovative problem solving from interdisciplinary teams of housing professionals resulting in a systematic concept that lowers the cost of developing affordable housing in Minnesota. Reducing both the hard and soft costs of rental housing will give the state and local communities additional options for providing a full range of housing choices for its low and moderate income residents.
The MN Challenge is a two-phased idea competition that will:
The need for more affordable rental housing is rising in Minnesota. From 2000 to 2012, the number of households paying more than 30% of their income on rent grew from 448,000 to 567,000. In 2012, 66% of lower-income renter households (annual income less than $50,000) were cost burdened by their rent. At the same time, the cost of developing housing remains high. Affordable housing delivery is shaped by a number of procedures, regulations, and policies instituted at all levels of the system - each with associated costs. It is increasingly necessary to identify opportunities to lower both the hard and soft costs of providing affordable housing.
BENDING THE COST CURVE
On January 16, 2014, Enterprise Community Partners and The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Housing released a report titled Bending the Cost Curve: Solutions to Expand the Supply of Affordable Rentals, which highlights the drivers of cost and lays out recommendations that may bend the cost curve and create a more efficient affordable rental housing delivery system. The MN Challenge is meant to advance the work and recommendations in this report towards implementation in Minnesota.
The report identifies key levers of cost and recommends broad categories for action to mitigate these costs:
We also are open to other ideas that achieve cost reduction. The MN Challenge is timed to leverage the release of this report and encourage the most knowledgeable people in the field (you) to propose ideas that will have a systems impact on reducing the cost of creating or preserving affordable housing.
As teams develop plans to implement their idea(s), they need to keep in mind that they will not be allowed to use the state and foundation funds awarded under this competition to lobby legislators or government officials. See the Legal requirements section later in this Request for Ideas for more discussion about allowable expenses and lobbying.