Community Dividend

Minnesota Home Ownership Center assumes responsibility for EMHI

Published July 1, 2009  |  July 2009 issue

In an agreement announced last April, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center (HOC) in St. Paul, Minn., has assumed responsibility for the Minnesota Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative (EMHI). Under the agreement, EMHI will cease to be a stand-alone organization and will be absorbed into HOC's ongoing program activities. The change is intended to ensure EMHI's viability in a challenging housing market.

EMHI was conceived five years ago as a means of closing the gap in homeownership rates between Minnesota's general population and the state's minority communities. At the time, Minnesota's overall homeownership rate was nearly 80 percent, while the homeownership rate for minorities was just over 40 percent. EMHI was convened by Minnesota Housing (the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency), Fannie Mae, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. More than 50 additional organizations, including financial institutions, Realtors' associations, and community development groups, participated in the initiative in an advisory capacity.

Following a kick-off event in June 2004, EMHI's conveners and advisors developed a business plan to identify strategies and best practices for addressing Minnesota's homeownership disparities. The completed business plan, which was submitted to Governor Tim Pawlenty in March 2005, set a goal of helping 40,000 emerging market households achieve homeownership by 2012.

EMHI began operating as a stand-alone organization in the spring of 2006. In the ensuing years, the initiative assumed a unique role as a facilitator, advocate, and liaison on emerging market homeownership issues. EMHI's accomplishments included creating community councils to establish ongoing communication with the four major emerging market groups in Minnesota (American Indian, Asian American, Latino, and Pan African), developing and conducting an industry education program to help real estate professionals enhance their relationships with minority populations, and establishing 12 pilot programs to highlight effective approaches for reaching emerging market buyers.

In the spring of 2008, in response to worsening market conditions brought about by the foreclosure crisis and economic recession, EMHI's board of directors appointed a planning group to assess the organization's status. The planning group determined that EMHI's goal of closing Minnesota's homeownership gap by 2012 was no longer feasible due to reversals in the housing market. However, the group also determined that to facilitate long-term wealth creation for minority families and create business opportunities for the homeownership industry, it was essential that EMHI continue to advocate for emerging market homeownership. In order to give EMHI a permanent home and ensure the needs of emerging markets remain in the forefront in Minnesota, the planning group recommended that EMHI's board of directors ask the HOC to assume responsibility for EMHI. The HOC is a nonprofit organization that provides homeownership services, such as first-time homebuyer training and foreclosure counseling, and serves as an intermediary among Minnesota's housing advocates, funders, and providers. The HOC had demonstrated its dedication to emerging markets issues through its participation in and support of EMHI's activities over the previous three years.

Last March, the boards of directors of EMHI and the HOC approved the planning group's proposal. Effective April 6, EMHI's organizational structure was dissolved and the HOC assumed responsibility for EMHI's activities. Shortly afterward, the HOC invited EMHI's former board members, along with the members of EMHI's four emerging market community councils, to form an advisory group that will help guide and inform the HOC in its management of EMHI.

For more information on EMHI, visit www.emhimn.org.

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Narayana Kocherlakota