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Rental Housing Commission wins statewide award for innovation

MORRIS – The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota has selected the city of Morris to receive a 2013 Local Government Innovation Award for the work of the Rental Housing Commission. The awards – organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation and co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota School Board Association – recognize 18 government entities for their creativity and effectiveness in redesigning how they do business.

“Each year cities, counties, and schools are challenged to do more with less and these awards recognize those who are most creatively doing that,” said Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “The award winners have done an exemplary job integrating innovative ideas and problem-solving techniques into their operations, redesigning how they do business and improving services they provide Minnesota communities.”

The Morris Rental Housing Commission (RHC) believed that education was an important part of building better relationships between landlords and tenants. Understanding what was expected and required by law from each party could help alleviate tension; make tenants better consumers and make landlords better business people; and provide healthier community relationships. To that end, the RHC developed some educational processes and a website to provide up to date information about inspections of the rental properties, best practices information for landlords, resources for both and educational material for those who want to learn more about the rental process.

“We are proud of the work the Rental Housing Commission has done. Landlords, tenants and other community members have come together to make a positive impact in the community. This is one more shining example of small town ingenuity and cooperation,” said Melanie Fohl, director of the Morris Housing Authority.

A panel of judges considered 94 submissions for their creativity, sustainability, and collaboration. The panel named 18 winners, with an overall winner in each of three categories: cities, counties, and schools. The overall category winners will each receive a $10,000 grant from the Bush Foundation to continue their work and a professionally produced video to use to share the story of their work with others. All 18 winners will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony and reception Thursday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. at the Humphrey School. To learn more about the Local Government Innovation Awards and view the complete list of winners and their innovations visit