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Commerce Department requesting proposals for homeowner education program

February 22, 2012

For Immediate Release

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce today announced a first-of-its-kind competitive grant opportunity for nonprofit organizations working to advance the dream of successful homeownership for Minnesota families.

Funded by the state’s Real Estate Education, Research, and Recovery Fund (REERRF), the grant is aimed at curbing foreclosures and building healthy, stable communities through successful homeownership. It is intended to provide financial support for programs that: (1) educate potential homebuyers or homeowners working to sustain their mortgages; and (2) incorporate financial literacy components in the support of low- and moderate-income Minnesota consumers who face barriers to successful homeownership.

“The mortgage financial meltdown put countless Minnesota families in economic duress; and predatory mortgage fraud has robbed many families of their financial security,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “In many cases, homeowner education may have helped prevent some of this activity. Through programs like this one, the Commerce Department is committed to helping provide Minnesotans the education they need to make informed financial decisions and avoid predatory schemes that take advantage of Minnesota consumers.”

Minnesota has the second highest homeownership rate in the nation, with 73 percent of all Minnesota households owning the home they live in. But according to the Commerce Department, that only tells part of the story. Unfortunately, many Minnesotan homeowners have been impacted by the financial crisis, including the unemployed, disabled, seniors, and children. Moreover, Minnesota’s homeownership disparity among communities of color is large and growing: moving from the eighth largest disparity in the nation to the fifth largest gap last year.

“This grant opportunity in part seeks to help address the mortgage crisis, working with non-profits to provide one-on-one counseling and financial education to potential homebuyers in low- and moderate-income families,” said Commissioner Rothman. “Working together, we can direct the efficient use of these resources to help one family at a time.”

The Commerce Department is requesting proposals for programs that provide education, resources, outreach, and information to Minnesota citizens who are potential homebuyers or homeowners working to sustain their mortgages. Successful proposals must contain at least three or more of the following outcomes:

  • Statewide outreach initiatives aimed at increasing public understanding of successful homeownership

  • Pre- and post-purchase home buyer education

  • Refinance and mortgage support counseling

  • Counseling on financial literacy in support of stable homeownership including wise use of credit, financial management, budgeting, etc.

  • Consumer protection outreach and education, including avoidance of predatory lending and foreclosure scams

  • Website information on pre-purchase education and foreclosure prevention

  • Development or use of culturally competent homebuyer, homeowner, financial literacy and/or consumer protection information targeting emerging markets designed to close the homeownership gap in Minnesota

  • Culturally competent outreach initiatives targeting emerging markets focused on closing the homeownership gap in Minnesota

Proposals eligible for the available funds will need to come from non-profit organizations with outreach initiatives targeted to audiences with a demonstrated need for homeownership assistance, incorporate financial literacy and document low administrative costs.

Up to $250,000 in total funding is available for programs through the REERRF and will close on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. No financial match component is needed to receive the funding. Project proposals will be ranked on understanding of project objectives, deliverables and work plan, qualifications of personnel working on the project, and cost. Non-profits interested in applying for the grant should visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.