Strategic Plan: 2017 - 2019

Introduction

HousingLink was established in 1997 through a collaborative effort between government, housing advocates, property owners/managers, and low-¬income renters to provide a central location for affordable rental housing information. The goal of this effort was, and continues to be, increasing the number of housing options to which low-¬income renters have access. Initially our work was accomplished by entering housing openings into a database and faxing lists throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Today Housing Link takes advantage of the most current technology to serve its clients through a dynamic website. In 2016 over 1 million searches for affordable housing in Minnesota were conducted via that site.

HousingLink also provides renter and landlord education, collaborates with other social service agencies, and provides essential information on affordable housing and low income renters to policy makers. HousingLink has become the region's primary source for affordable housing¬ related data, information, and resources.

HousingLink's work has focused on the Twin Cities region since our inception in 1997, and expanded to all of Minnesota in 2015. HousingLink's work is inspired by its core values of housing choice, stability, and equity. Its work is to provide marginalized renters with access to all affordable housing options that meet their needs, using technology to streamline data and increase access.

Mission

HousingLink’s mission is to improve people’s lives through information expanding their affordable rental choices.

Values

HOUSING CHOICE. HousingLink empowers renters to overcome barriers and to choose housing with access to good schools, employment, transportation and community resources. STABILITY. HousingLink helps renters find affordable housing that leads to dignity and stability in all aspects of their lives.

COMMUNITY. HousingLink believes communities are stronger when all renters have access to quality affordable and safe housing.

RELIABILITY. HousingLink is a trusted, objective source of accurate and reliable information that is easy to find.

LEADERSHIP THROUGH INNOVATION. HousingLink continually finds new and better ways to provide affordable rental housing information and data.

Strategic Goals 2017 – 2019

Goal: Enhance services for renters and service providers, expanding their housing choices and knowledge, so they are empowered to find stable housing and strengthen communities.

In 2016 there were 1 million housing searches, 11,680 openings advertised, and 360,000 views of affordable housing information on www.housinglink.org.

Housing Hub - Design and develop a new online tool connecting renters to Project Based Section 8 waiting lists. This innovation will:

  • Provide real-time knowledge to renters about their status on wait lists
  • Streamline processes at properties
  • Provide new unduplicated data about who is sitting on waiting lists to aid partner agencies with their own planning.
2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Execute the Housing Hub fundraising plan
  • Carry out the project development process
Housing System Navigator - Explore the creation of technology solutions to address the lack of Housing Navigator services for low-income renters. Renters who don’t easily fit into the mainstream multifamily housing process have limited or no access to assistance in locating affordable housing.

Ideas to explore to address this problem include:
  • Invest in continuous improvement of technology to aid renters in navigating housing system
  • Explore the creation of short videos as a primary education tool to help renters communicate about and overcome barriers to housing (evictions, criminal background, poor credit, etc.)
  • Investigate the value and sustainability of a Train-the-Trainer model of housing navigators for the human service professionals in the public and nonprofit sectors.
2017 Implementation Measures:
  • While implementing a 2017 pilot project to identify affordable housing for homeless veterans, explore ways to connect the landlords who have indicated in HousingLink listings a willingness to consider renters with barriers (poor rental history, bad credit, or criminal history) with human service professionals.
Goal: Increase awareness and breadth of impact that HousingLink’s research & data has in the community, driving innovative solutions in affordable housing.

In 2017 HousingLink provides data through several 3rd party reports and the Twin Cities Rental Revue report, its only proprietary report.

Increase awareness of HousingLink data - Currently the unique data and our ability to efficiently work with government and private data sources is not known beyond the affordable housing data community (e.g. municipal planners, foundations, and businesses).

2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Create and begin implementing a marketing strategy focused on expanding awareness of the existing research and data that HousingLink has in the community.
Housing dashboard - Develop a dashboard that informs and showcases HousingLink’s proprietary data - including data on Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) and Housing Hub demand data.

2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Design and begin implement a housing dashboard with the Product Development Committee
Showcase HousingLink work - Use new approaches to share the value and impact of HousingLink data and our work outside the affordable housing sector.

2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Create a streamline report for sharing high-level data with newly elected local officials, inviting inquiries for deeper research.
  • Hold a forum touting HousingLink’s unique data and perspective on the affordable housing market and celebrating the 20th Anniversary of HousingLink.
Goal: Leverage HousingLink’s unique relationship with private market landlords to encourage a broad spectrum of listings while promoting the adoption of recognized best practices and increasing housing choice and quality in our community.

HousingLink has worked with over 6,000 landlords advertising openings since 1997, many of these owners are providing naturally occurring affordable housing in the private market. With a sustained vacancy rate of less than 3% since 2011 the housing market is very tight, leading many owners to opt out of accepting tenant based rent assistance vouchers and being very selective in their applicant criteria.

Increase Listings - Expand Landlord Loyalty Club to provide education and best practice standards for landlords.

2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Hold Landlord Loyalty Club trainings in seven areas of greater Minnesota throughout 2017.
  • Promote Landlord Loyalty Club through community partners and other agencies throughout 2017.
Best Practices - leverage Landlord Loyalty Club and our unique role with landlords operating Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) units to share business practices that benefit all renters and a focus on maintaining quality, safe rental units.

2017 Implementation Measures:
  • Explore data on rental licensed properties and property conditions in the city of Minneapolis by pursuing data sharing with the city of Minneapolis Department of Regulatory Services by summer 2017.
  • Expand Landlord Loyalty Club curriculum to include property conditions.