"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.

Graystone Hotel Centennial: Come and Celebrate With Us!

An open house marking the 100th anniversary of The Graystone Hotel will be held 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at 119 Graystone Plaza, Detroit Lakes, MN.

2 p.m. Tours 3 p.m. Speakers Music by Heart O’Lakes Harmony Quartet Car Display by Antique Auto Group Becker County Historical Society Exhibit

A complete story with photos can be found in the Detroit Lakes Newspapers online.

Office Space Available for Rent

Be a part of history! Office for rent in historic location near premiere downtown intersection, offering Highway 10 frontage in Detroit Lakes, MN. Contact Laura McKnight for details.

MMCDC is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.