Hope Melton

July 2019 – Over the coming decade, Minnesota’s urban population is forecasted to grow – in some places, by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, affordable housing stock in the Twin Cities is not keeping pace with this projection.

The City of Edina is not immune to either trend, as Hometown Hero Hope Melton can attest. In point of fact, Edina is a perfect case study for how affordable housing touches all residents of a community, regardless of their family’s income level.

Hope Melton Resized

“I’ve read extensively on this issue in the past couple of years,” Melton explained. “It has such a broad impact on us all.” For instance, “housing availability and costs are a major factor that businesses look at when deciding whether to move into a city.” This, in turn, has obviously repercussions on the area’s economic vitality.

Likewise, skyrocketing rent and mortgage costs are a deterrent to middle-class wage earners like teachers and health service providers – professions without which no community can thrive.

Last and perhaps most heartbreaking, explained Melton, is the trickle-down effect that untenable housing trends can have on the residents who have lived in the city the longest. “In this market, seniors can have a hard time downsizing. It’s not easy to find an apartment or other housing arrangement on their budget … and relocating out of Edina means leaving their vital social support system behind.” Without this mobility, younger families are unable to find starter homes in Edina and are forced to set down their roots elsewhere.

As a retired urban planner and 40-year resident of the heavily residential Concord Neighborhood, Melton has had a valuable vantage point on these trends in action.

She was not content to be a passive bystander, however. In the fall of 2017, Melton founded Edina Neighbors for Affordable Housing (ENAH). As the name suggests, ENAH is a grassroots coalition devoted to rightsizing the area’s housing market. “Our goal is to make Edina an equitable and welcoming place, with housing for people at all income levels and in all stages of life,” she explained.

ENAH priorities fall within three overarching areas: preserving Edina’s existing rental units and reasonable homes; protecting the tenant populations here already; and producing more affordable units to alleviate anticipated strain. (According to the Met Council, the City of Edina will require 1,220 additional such units by 2030.)


At present, the group boasts about 100 members, and is a leading member within the larger Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition.

In practice, ENAH does its greatest good by working at the level of City Hall – providing information to the various commissions and task forces that have some role in housing, and advocating for specific policies or ordinances. 

Since the organization’s inception, Melton and her colleagues can take pride in playing some hand in nearly a dozen concrete steps taken in the right direction. Examples include creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund and adoption of a revised Federal Fair Housing Policy. 

Furthermore, as of summer 2018, the City has maintained a full-time Affordable Housing Development Manager. This strategic investment makes Edina unique within the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition.

Melton will not be resting on her laurels, however. “There is still so much that needs doing,” she said. 

Next on her list is the City’s adoption of a tenant protection ordinance (TPO). This regulation safeguards a 90-day notification window for renters forced to move because of a building sale outside of their control. Nearby suburbs, including St. Louis Park and Golden Valley, already have a TPO on the books. 

Edina Neighbors for Affordable Housing is currently at work on a website. In the meantime, residents can visit Open Doors Edina for more information on the City’s affordable housing efforts.

Unfortunately, affordable housing stock in the Twin Cities is not keeping pace with this projection. 

The City of Edina is not immune to either trend, as Hometown Hero Hope Melton can attest. In point of fact, Edina is a perfect case study for how affordable housing touches all residents of a community, regardless of their family’s income level.

“I’ve read extensively on this issue in the past couple of years,” Melton explained. “It has such a broad impact on us all.” For instance, “housing availability and costs are a major factor that businesses look at when deciding whether to move into a city.” This, in turn, has obviously repercussions on the area’s economic vitality.

Likewise, skyrocketing rent and mortgage costs are a deterrent to middle-class wage earners like teachers and health service providers – professions without which no community can thrive. 

Last and perhaps most heartbreaking, explained Melton, is the trickle-down effect that untenable housing trends can have on the residents who have lived in the city the longest. “In this market, seniors can have a hard time downsizing. It’s not easy to find an apartment or other housing arrangement on their budget … and relocating out of Edina means leaving their vital social support system behind.” Without this mobility, younger families are unable to find starter homes in Edina and are forced to set down their roots elsewhere.

As a retired urban planner and 40-year resident of the heavily residential Concord Neighborhood, Melton has had a valuable vantage point on these trends in action.