A year ago, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), with the help of Public Policy Associates, Inc. (PPA), set out to create a new strategic plan that would respond to racial inequities and affordable housing needs, while positioning MSHDA to be a leader in its field.  Then, the pandemic hit.

MSHDA is the state’s housing finance authority and promotes affordable housing through tax credits and rental housing vouchers, as well as homeownership programs and efforts to eliminate homelessness.  Today, PPA researchers are partnering with MSHDA as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic and charts a longer-term course for its future efforts.

“Unemployment has soared since March, and that has created the potential for housing instability for many in the state and urgent challenges for MSHDA,” said Colleen Graber, the project director and PPA’s chief operating officer.  “Those immediate issues have led MSHDA and PPA to redesign our work approach.  In addition to adding the COVID planning phase, PPA is modifying some of its research approaches to include more virtual interactions.”

Race equity is critical to MSHDA’s pandemic response, as well as their new strategic plan.  People of color have been hit especially hard by the virus and were already more likely to be disadvantaged when it came to homeownership and other housing situations.

Beginning last fall, PPA worked with MSHDA’s staff to inform new mission and vision statements, define focus areas, and select guiding principles for their work moving forward.  This occurred through a facilitated process including a strategic planning team from MSHDA, staff work groups, a staff survey, and a day-long session with staff.  Using secondary data, real-time polling, discussion, and feedback loops, MSHDA gained a solid basis for the foundation of its next strategic plan.

The next phase of planning includes interviews with experts within Michigan and nationally, roundtables with stakeholders in key housing areas, a benchmarking study involving 16 states, a literature review, and engagement with MSHDA customers and members of the public.

With these new plans in hand, MSHDA will be positioned not only to address the immediate challenges resulting from COVID-19, but to make progress on systemic housing issues with its partners.  Through it all, PPA plans to be there to help and lend its expertise.

For more information on PPA’s work in housing, contact Colleen Graber (cgraber@publicpolicy.com or 517-281-2024).