This is one of six organizations participating in the Community Development Investments (CDI) program. For more information about the program itself, click here.
The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization located in southern Minnesota. SWMHP’s mission is to create thriving places to live, grow, and work through partnerships with communities. Since it was founded in 1992, SWMHP has partnered with communities in over 30 counties across Minnesota to provide single family and multifamily housing development and preservation, homeownership assistance, community and regional development planning, supportive housing, downtown revitalization, and target market population programming.
SMHP hosted a community forum to kick-off the CDI program back in October. Click here to view the program from the event and you can watch the video below.
The Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) was created in 1992 by three community action agencies and a regional planning organization, who recognized that the lack of housing was creating barriers to economic growth. SWMHP initially engaged in housing development and community planning in the aftermath of three federally-declared natural disasters. SWMHP's services are still built from community engagement as we strive to understand market and community need and develop responsive solutions. Solutions are varied and unique to each place, challenging SWMHP to evolve as our region undergoes change.
SWMHP serves a rural, multi-county area covering southern and western Minnesota providing housing and community development services in about one-third of Minnesota. We maintain a portfolio of over 1,600 rental units in 27 communities, and develop approximately 200 housing units per year. Recently, SWMHP refocused its work on sustainable building (green and healthy) practices and creating community resources that help people prosper.
For twenty-three years, the SWMHP has been committed to a double bottom line: providing quality housing and development services that improve the lives of people through striving to build communities and using business strategies to lead, innovate, and maintain the organizational strength to serve in the years ahead, even in the midst of on-going economic uncertainty. SWMHP is highly valued for:
- Partnership with communities to plan, access, leverage, and assemble the resources necessary to complete a development project
- Expertise in providing a diverse portfolio of quality real estate and community development tools and services designed to respond to market demand and resident need
- Strategic investments that meet community needs for housing, facilities, and capital and generate organizational revenue to ensure financial sustainability
- Agility and flexibility of response based on market awareness coupled with skilled staff that provides the ability to react quickly to changing business conditions and opportunities
- Innovation using new approaches to improve the lives of people and help to build communities
Our community consists of many small discrete villages and cities spread across southern and western Minnesota. Our community is a historically agricultural region defined by its rich prairie soils, farm commodities and Scandinavian heritage. Now we are becoming something different. We have experienced rapid demographic and economic changes in recent decades. Some parts of our community have lost population to urban areas or regional centers. Others have grown and become more diverse, with refugees and immigrants from around the world making their homes in rural Minnesota. Whether growing or shrinking, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) has seen these rapid shifts lead to an “identity crisis” for many communities. Who are we now? And, where are we going? Can we help forge new identity and place through the vibrancy of Art and Culture?
Our community had to change. After decades of steady population losses common to all of the Great Plains States, it was apparent that we had to diversify our economic base. Our community sought investment from federal, state and local sources to attract new industry to southern Minnesota, including agricultural processing facilities, light industrial manufacturing and assembly, biofuels and other renewables, biomedical and veterinary sciences and healthcare. The strategy countered the long-term population losses and has made the region more resilient to agricultural cycles. By 1992, the region was suffering from its success, having created job demand that outstripped both its workforce supply and available housing infrastructure. This was the catalyst to form SWMHP and set in motion a great wave of new residents from every corner of the world.
The newcomers to our community are injecting energy and a new sense of place as they shape a future for themselves and their families. This is occurring throughout our community in a hundred different places, each making its own unique place. In Worthington it is manifested through cultural festivals, street art and a vibrant downtown business community. In Walnut Grove, visual art was used to fuse Little House on the Prairie with Hmong culture. At SWMHP, we know that the physical nature of community and housing development demonstrates the value of a place and its residents. It says we believe there’s a future here (and rural communities don’t often hear that!). Through the partnership with ArtPlace, we can enhance creative placemaking to build sustainable rural community through the deliberate use of resident- and artist-influenced projects to affirm and reflect identity back to community. In doing so we hope to support a positive vision of who we are becoming.