Mary Jo Minor: Providing Homes, Not Housing Units

Mary Jo Minor and her company, Mills Property Management in Brookings, are responsible for maintaining 1,900 residential units throughout eastern South Dakota. The company has a staff of 45 employees. They manage properties financed with Section 8, HOME Funds, Housing Tax Credits and other programs administered through SDHDA.

"Every day when I go to work, my motivating factor is that people need a safe, sound and secure place to live, and some people need help with that," commented Minor. She has worked with many people over the years. She's been with the company, started by her father, for 24 years. Harvey Mills began as a building contractor. He later started constructing apartments. That led his business in the direction of property management and working with housing programs that assist low-income residents.

"I came into the family business in 1989. I started out managing for my dad's development habit," she said with a chuckle. Today Mills Property Management is strictly a service business, managing properties for more than 15 different owners and investor groups.

It's a business that is complicated, challenging, rewarding and sometimes frustrating. But Minor makes a point of remembering the people who live in these properties. For them, it is their home, not a housing unit.

One person who sticks in her mind is the single father of three girls, the youngest with Down Syndrome. "When they moved here, they were living in a camper and the youngest was just 18 months old," Minor recalled. From that difficult start, the family found a place to live in one of the Mills properties. They've become part of the community. The youngest is now 10 years old and the other two girls are in middle school.

"We know the staff at SDHDA is there to give us support, but also to help us find the answers," Minor said. "They understand that there are people on the other end of the paperwork. They are instrumental in our success."