City STAR

Forrest Brown, housing inspector II
Administration and Community Engagement, Regulatory Services

Regulatory Services Deputy Director Kellie Jones and Angie Hugen, manager of the Homeowner Navigation Program, nominated Brown for exhibiting superior initiative, creativity and cross-departmental collaboration in the development of the Minneapolis Homeowner Resource Guide, a significant enterprise tool that is highly user-friendly and increases customer satisfaction:

“Brown has been helping low-income seniors, veterans and people with disabilities in the Homeowner Navigation Program for the past two years. Most of the homeowners he has worked with have a lack of financial resources in addition to being on their own with few family members to help cover the gaps. As Brown searches for loan/grant programs and nonprofit agencies to make repairs for these vulnerable homeowners, he realized that a more systematic approach was needed.

“On his own initiative, Brown began meeting with every possible source of funding or volunteer repair group he could find. Collaborating with Neighborhood and Community Relations staff, Brown made appointments and spoke to all of the City's neighborhood groups to check out what they offered residents in their neighborhoods. He collaborated with Community Planning and Economic Development staff and gathered all the grant and loan program information they provided to owners. He also met with staff from the Center for Energy and Environment and Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation in order to understand what grants and loans each of these organizations offers to residents. As he did this, Brown compiled all of the information into a vast database.

“Brown transformed this database into a significant enterprise tool when he had the vision to make it accessible and interactive for all City residents and staff. Residents and staff can search loans, grants and all available repair resources based on geographic location displayed on a Minneapolis city map. This interactive tool, named the Minneapolis Homeowner Resource Guide, has increased community engagement significantly by allowing residents easy and understandable access to all the financial and repair resources available to them. The Minneapolis Homeowner Resource Guide has vastly expanded the ability of all residents to abate violations issued to their properties by providing them with the financial and volunteer resources available to make needed repairs.

“Rather than each homeowner having to spend countless hours researching their options, Brown has provided accurate, geographically based information into their hands directly. He supplemented the map with additional useful topics and up-to-date contact information for each agency listed. Topics include: common lending terms, building code requirements, primary Minneapolis lenders, public home improvement financing programs, volunteer home repair programs, energy assistance resources, indoor health resources, homeownership and foreclosure prevention, legal resources and chore services. For people who may not have access to a computer, Brown created a 17-page paper copy of the Minneapolis Homeowner Resource Guide with all the above information included.

“Brown immediately shared his product with inspectors in Regulatory Services, Neighborhood and Community Relations staff, the City Council offices and all the neighborhood groups and cultural communities in the city who found the interactive map and accompanying printed guide extremely useful. At a recent Veterans Resource Fair, staff representing Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar reviewed the guide and requested multiple copies for their use with their constituents.”

Published Nov 1, 2016

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