MMCDC produces videos on salvation of historic hotel

From glory days to dilapidation and back again, the 100-year history of a Minnesota landmark is now available on two videos.

The Graystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes, which helped foster the growth of outstate Minnesota tourism, turned 100 years old in 2017. A celebration of the hotel’s history and restoration was held Sept. 21, 2017, with a time capsule dedication and public tour, historic exhibits, entertainment and presentations. Two videos related to the event and history are available as links on MMCDC’s website and as keepsake DVDs for purchase at the Becker County Museum, located at 714 Summit Ave. in Detroit Lakes.

MMCDC acquired the building in 1998 and, with assistance from multiple investors and funders, restored it under standards set by the U.S. Department of the Interior. MMCDC subsequently renovated every building on the block, with all buildings now appearing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo courtesy of Becker County Historical Society

Online appointment sign-up offered for 2018 White Earth Tax Site

For the first time, an online appointment scheduling option will be available to people who need free tax preparation services and prefer to make appointments at their own convenience.

“Every year we have people who try to make appointments after normal business hours, for example, and are sent to voicemail,” Tax Site Director Amanda Hanson said. “This way, we don’t have to ‘play phone tag’ – they can just log in at www.weii.website beginning Jan. 15.”

Amanda Hanson

This is one of several anticipated software improvements when compared to the previous year. A server overload experienced by the software provider delayed the 2017 tax site opening. “They have since restructured their system and also have corrected or addressed over 700 software issues,” Hanson said. And, the company has been working to make Minnesota Tax Return forms more accurate and user-friendly for preparers.

Things that are not expected to change include the new federal law that delays refunds that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). These refunds won’t be released until at least Feb. 15.

This delay will be universal for all tax service providers. Filers still are urged to make an appointment and file as soon as possible to avoid a backlog on Feb. 15.

 The White Earth Tax Site is a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. VITA offers quality, community-based tax services at no charge to help qualifying filers obtain the maximum tax credits allowable along with access to their full refunds. The following services will be provided in the Event Center of the Shooting Star Casino, Mahnomen, Minn., beginning Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Free on-site tax preparation and electronic filing. Beginning Jan. 16, call MMCDC at 1-800-752-6579 to schedule an appointment with a trained community volunteer or visit the website to select an appointment time. Filers also have the option of dropping off their tax materials at the site, and their return will be prepared and e-filed within a week. Free self-preparation at www.myfreetaxes.com. This website allows filers who have access to a computer and Internet connection to prepare and electronically file their own returns using free tax software. Free walk-in self-preparation using a tax site computer. No appointment necessary; computer availability on a first-come, first-served basis. The tax site will open 12-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday through March 8 in the Event Center at Shooting Star Casino; it will close Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.

To be eligible for the above taxpayer services, filers must have $60,000 annual adjusted gross income or less. There are types of income and expense on returns that the IRS does not allow volunteer preparers to complete.

Types of returns the White Earth Tax Site cannot complete include the following: businesses with employees, inventory, depreciation, businesses with more than $25,000 in expenses, rental income, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments, employee business expenses, moving expenses, complex capital gains, hobby income and mortgage foreclosures.

Taxpayers must bring a government-issued photo ID for filers and Social Security cards for all listed on the return. For more information regarding tax appointments, go to www.weii.website.

For a quicker refund have it direct deposited by bringing the bank routing number and your account number for the tax preparer (voided check, a statement from the bank, or passbook).

This program is a service of White Earth Investment Initiative, with support from West Central Initiative; Shooting Star Casino, Hotel and Event Center; Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation; United Way Worldwide; and H&R Block.

With questions or to volunteer, contact Amanda Hanson, tax site coordinator, at 218-844-7020.

 

 

"I celebrated holidays in a trailer. Don't put it down, it was home."

In this opinion piece published Nov. 23 in USA Today, fellow community developer Suzanne Anarde shared a real-world view on “trailers,” aka mobile or manufactured homes. The following is excerpted from that column.

Mobile homes could help solve the affordable housing crisis and help people recover from disasters. They should not be synonymous with slurs.

The holidays are a time when many of us reflect on the meaning of home. But the fact is that not all homes are created, or valued, equally.

Take the manufactured home, otherwise known as a mobile or trailer home. There is no American dwelling more disrespected. They’re derided as “tornado magnets,” and they serve as the butt of plenty of jokes and derogatory terms about low-income, rural people.

For me, this gets personal. I grew up in manufactured housing, first in a singlewide trailer next to my family’s trading post on a Navajo reservation, and later in a brand new doublewide in a New Mexico trailer park. I never knew there was anything wrong with that. It was where my mom was, where I did my homework, where we shared Thanksgiving dinner and put up our Christmas tree. We lived comfortably, with dignity, and it had nothing to do with the public’s attitude toward the physical structure of our house.

A home should never be synonymous with a slur. But beyond that, updating public perception is important because manufactured housing is important. It constitutes the country’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing and is home to more than 17.5 million low-income Americans, most of them in rural and small-town America.

Manufactured housing costs about 20% of the average site-built home. Under the right conditions, it can help solve the affordable housing crisis in our country. In fact, a growing body of evidence shows that a high-quality, factory-built home, combined with fair and affordable financing and ownership or long-term control of the land where it’s installed, is an effective tool for low-income Americans to keep a reliable roof over their heads and build some equity.

Continue reading…

Tips to manage your 2017 taxes

A national poll from NeighborWorks America found nearly half of the taxpayers across the country expect to use their 2017 tax refund to strengthen their financial situation by either paying off debt or saving for the future. Financial capability counselors from White Earth Investment Initiative and MMCDC are ready to help you make the best decision possible when it comes to completing tax forms, saving and managing debt.

If you’re using a tax preparation professional to complete your form, seek a referral from friends and co-workers. Not all tax preparers offer the same degree of service, and fees can vary widely. Consider having your tax documents prepared by the White Earth Investment Initiative and MMCDC. We are affiliated with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA tax preparers receive training and certification by the U.S. Treasury department. Taxpayers who want to work with a VITA consultant need to meet income and family size requirements. The staff at White Earth Investment Initiative and MMCDC are available to help customers determine if they’re eligible for the VITA program. Think about using a tax refund to save for retirement. A majority of Americans enter retirement without enough money to maintain their lifestyle. Saving early and consistently will help you reach your goals. Be wary of tax preparers that urge you to receive a tax refund anticipation loan. These loans often are very high cost, and while they may put money immediately into your pocket, electronic filing is easy and refunds are available to you in just days. Consider establishing an emergency savings account. Nearly one out of three adults or more than 70 million people in America don’t have an emergency savings account. About 47 percent of Americans with a savings account say that their savings would last less than one month. If you don’t have an emergency savings account starting one with a portion of your tax refund is a great first step. Understand the differences between savings accounts. White Earth Investment Initiative and MMCDC offer financial capability counseling that can help you select the savings account that is right for you. When paying off debt, recognize that not all debt is the same. Home mortgage debt and credit card debt are very different. A financial capability counselor from White Earth Investment Initiative and MMCDC can help you prepare and follow-through on the best way to reduce debt.

White Earth Investment Initiative is an affiliate of MMCDC, a member of the NeighborWorks network.

Only three apartments left at Pine Villa
Updated kitchen features new countertops and flooring.

Newly remodeled 1-bedroom units w/ walk-in showers available for rent at Pine Villa Estates in Menahga. This building offers a beautiful park-like setting with attached community room and is only 12 miles from Park Rapids, 24 from Wadena, and within 35 of Ponsford, Perham or New York Mills.

Updated bathroom incudes walk-in shower with grab bars.

Housing is designed for seniors and disabled adults. Rent based upon 30 percent of income; income and other restrictions apply. On-site laundry area available.

Call 1-888-847-7404 for details and application assistance, or email aparteka@mmcdc.com. MMCDC is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

All units feature one bedroom.

Photos by Lillian Koski, site manager.

A rare gem: Meadow Run

Most apartments have one bedroom; affordable units for larger families are rare. That’s what makes Meadow Run such a find – it has three-bedroom units available for just $650 monthly, and two-bedrooms for less. The rent includes a garage, garbage service, water and sewer utilities, and heat. And, each unit comes with a dishwasher and air conditioning.

“You really can’t beat it, and most people don’t even know it’s there,” said Laura McKnight, Housing Director, Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation.

Laura McKnight

Meadow Run is income-restricted, reserving these special units for families in need of affordable housing in an era when new apartments can rent at $1,000 a month. Meadow Run is located in Menahga, MN, a family friendly rural community just 15 minutes south of Park Rapids, MN.

“We always hear employers need affordable housing for their employees – Meadow Run is just what they are looking for and, in fact, was built years ago with these employers in mind,” McKnight said. “This is a well-maintained building operating under longtime management in a quality neighborhood—and that is just what a good tenant is looking for,” she added.

For more information on Meadow Run, including incentives and the application process, contact Laura McKnight at 218-847-5641.

MMCDC affiliate helps sponsor banquet

The Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 30th anniversary! A special banquet is being held Dec. 1 at Mystic Lake Casino. MMCDC’s affiliate, the White Earth Investment Initiative, is one of many event sponsors.

Register and support the work of this important group.

NeighborWorks recognizes MMCDC project

NeighborWorks America is devoting its monthly newsletter to community development in Native American communities. The newsletter features a story on the expansion of the White Earth Tribal and Community College, which utilized financing from MMCDC as well as its affiliates, Community Development Bank and White Earth Investment Initiative.

Read the newsletter here.

Two Thumbs Up!

Customers reviews were positive for MMCDC’s Home Loan Division in the most recent quarter:

It was a very easy process, and we are happy with the service we received Friendly and prompt Everything went smoothly and closed on time from the date that was estimated Everyone we worked with was wonderful, responsive, and had a great sense of humor Quick, thorough, and informative Was a quick response on questions, was able to close fairly quickly Everyone was very helpful For all the high talk on how much paperwork involved with buying a home, went way smoother than expected We couldn’t be more pleased-efficient, friendly, professionally meticulous Request for 2nd Mortgage for Home Improvement loan went well Quick, very smooth financing. Can’t wait to get our house fixed up Very smooth process – everyone I worked with was helpful and efficient Without your service, myself and many others I know wouldn’t be able to buy a house

For more information on home loan options, go to our Mortgage Lending page.