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In 1999, HousingMinnesota was awarded a $250,000 grant by the Minneapolis Foundation to change the public’s negative perception of the people who are in need of affordable housing. HousingMinnesota, originally featured in the September 2002 issue of Breakthroughs, was the product of the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) and six other organizations. Together they established the nonprofit as a means of building a statewide affordable housing campaign that would lead to policy change and secure finances for housing. The effort included an advertising and grassroots outreach program that progressed in three phases—public education, community support, and policy advocacy.

A woman in front of a chalkboard. <br>

Image Courtesy: Minnesota Housing Partnership

The first phase of the campaign was to develop messages and images that communicated a need for housing at various price levels in order to build strong communities. The social marketing campaign aimed to dispel common misconceptions of people who are in need of affordable housing; billboards displayed people with various backgrounds and circumstances, such as teachers and senior citizens. The second phase focused on building a foundation of support from various members of the community, who the organization regards as key players in achieving legislative success. The third and final phase sought to accomplish a number of policy objectives. In 2005, HousingMinnesota coordinated with stakeholders to preserve appropriations for the Economic Development and Housing Challenge Program — a program that awards funds to help meet local housing needs. That same year, the nonprofit organization also developed research reports and media campaigns to help restore "4d" — a classification that reduces property taxes for low-income housing rentals by 40 percent.

The HousingMinnesota campaign concluded in 2006, but in the seven years of its existence, chalked up numerous accomplishments. The campaign partnered with over 160 organizations to promote safe and decent affordable housing and generated over 3 million media impressions statewide. "The residuals of the campaign carry forward today," said MHP Executive Director, Chip Halbach. "As an example, we are now teamed with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on a communications plan appropriate to this troubled economy. We have drawn from the HousingMinnesota lessons and those elsewhere, for this new effort."

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