Back Story: Meet Anne Mavity, affordable housing leader

Back Story: Meet Anne Mavity, affordable housing leader

Anne Mavity became executive director at the Minnesota Housing Partnership in 2017. Past roles have included stints at the Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, Corporation for Supportive Housing, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on housing and community development. (Submitted photo: Minnesota Housing Partnership)

Anne Mavity is all about getting people involved in the decisions that affect their lives.

Professionally, she has turned that ideal to housing. She has worked in government and nonprofits to promote housing for all, most recently as the executive director since 2017 of the St. Paul-based Minnesota Housing Partnership.

But she also puts her belief in community engagement to work more directly. Mavity is in her eighth year as a St. Louis Park City Council member, where she has worked on the future Southwest Light Rail Transit line planning and other major economic issues.

At the nonprofit she leads, Mavity focuses on policy advocacy, research and community organizing. She’s no stranger to the nuts and bolts of development, though. As director of new projects at Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, she spearheaded the 39-unit 66 West apartments in Edina, which opened in 2017.

Through all her work, she says housing is a tool to improve lives and bring people together.

“It’s really the goal of creating more housing for more people in strong communities,” Mavity said.

Finance & Commerce recently interviewed Mavity about her background and her interests. The answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q: How did you end up in this line of work?

A: I had applied to be housing director [at the Central Neighborhood Improvement Association] straight out of college, and didn’t get it. The organization, I think, was in such disarray they couldn’t keep an executive director. So I think they pulled my resume off some table. That job really taught me how significant housing can be to people, and also how much more I needed to know.

Q: What was your first paying job, and what did you learn that applies to your current job?

A: One of the first, which I loved, was working at Mount Olivet nursing home over on Lyndale. I just loved everything I could learn from people who had lived long, interesting lives.

Q: What is your favorite property in the Twin Cities that isn’t related to your line of work?

A: One of the reasons I love Milwaukee Avenue and the Seward neighborhood is that it emphasizes community. They closed the street in-between the houses and created this walkable, safe quiet area for all the neighbors to gather together.

Q: If you were hosting first-time visitors to the Twin Cities, where would you take them and why?

A: Certainly all the lakes in Minneapolis I think are top assets, in all seasons. I also have to give a shout-out in St. Louis Park to our Westwood Hills Nature Center.

Q: What was the affordable housing project that got away?

A: There’s so many. I think they got away because … there’s so many communities, and individuals even, that have not been supportive of these affordable housing developments, and yet don’t realize how much it benefits their children, them, their grandparents, all the folks that take care of them and their kids.

Q: What are your favorite activities outside work?

A: Anything that is active and outdoors is going to make me very happy.

Q: What is one thing people would never guess about you?

A: I lived in Russia for four years, from ’93 to ’97, right when they were having their first free, democratic elections. During that time, the president and parliament were in a dispute, and there was martial law for several weeks. The president ordered tanks to fire on parliament. I was in the crowd, right on the river banks, with tanks behind me and tanks in front of me, watching people shoot at each other.

Q: What do you read to keep up with your job, as well as for pleasure?

A: Finance & Commerce, of course! For work, I try to read a variety of sources along the housing continuum. Shelterforce is a great source, but I also have a subscription to American Banker. Novogradac is my go-to to understand affordable housing opportunities and trends. I am in a book club and we focus on historical fiction.

Q: What are your words to live by?

A: Live your life so you have a story to tell. When I worked at Central Neighborhood, my first job, one of my board members who’d had a pretty patchwork life told me that.

Anne Mavity

Title: Executive director, Minnesota Housing Partnership

Education: B.A. in government and Slavic language and literature from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and a master’s in public policy from Georgetown University
Age: 55

Hometown: Minneapolis

Residence: St. Louis Park

Family: Husband, Tom Fulton, founder and former executive director of the Family Housing Fund; two children

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