Area Housing Trust Fund certified

Posted September 17, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Plymouth County supervisors gave their support for the Regional Housing Trust Fund for the area but continued the discussion on financing of the western Iowa region.

Dwight Lang and Kristi Quinn of Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) explained the Western Iowa Community Improvement Regional Housing Trust Fund (WICIRHTF) status at the Sept. 10 supervisors’ meeting. The matter was also on the Sept. 17 supervisors’ agenda.

The area includes the counties of Plymouth, Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Woodbury not including Sioux City. Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) approved it as a region Aug. 16.

Lang explained the program assists low to moderate income people pay for home improvements such as furnaces, roofs and other areas.

The Local Housing Trust Fund Program was created by the Iowa Legislature in 2003. Since its inception the program has provided more than $28.9 million in awards and leveraged $3.03 for every $1 in financing of funds invested, according to the IFA.

“Our capacity to fulfill our mission to further affordable housing opportunities for Iowa families within our service area has been reinforced by our recent certification as a Local Housing Trust Fund. We look forward to providing many more Iowa families with an affordable place that they can be proud to call home through this partnership with the IFA,” said Lang in a press release.

The designation allows the WICIRHTF to apply for funds from the IFA’s State Housing Trust Fund program.

The State Housing Trust Fund helps ensure decent, safe and affordable housing for Iowans through two important programs. The Local Housing Trust Fund program receives at least 60 percent of the SHTF allocation to provide grants to organizations certified by the IFA as a local housing trust fund. The remaining funds go to the Project-Based Housing Program that aids the development of single-family and multifamily housing. The IFA administers both programs and provides technical assistance to housing-related organizations.

“It’s done a lot of great things to improve homes in the Akron area,” said Supervisor Jim Henrich of Akron.

“It’s a huge help, really makes a difference,” said Quinn.

The WICTRHTF would like to see $15,000 from Plymouth County but exactly how the funds’ source was to be determined at the Sept. 17 meeting. There are 27 certified Local Housing Trustr Funds in Iowa. Sioux County is in a different region to the north.

Supervisor Don Kass said he was frustrated that the system “makes us spend money to get our own money back.”

More than $7.8 million is available to the 27 certified Local Housing Trust Funds on a competitive basis in Fiscal Year 2014. Local Housing Trust Funds use the funding to develop and preserve affordable housing locally.

“The partnerships between the IFA and Local Housing Trust Funds are vital to advancing affordable housing in Iowa. The recent certification of the Waterloo and the WICIRHTF means that local housing priorities in these areas will now have another important financing tool available to them,” said IFA Executive Director Dave Jaimison in a press release.

“We were one of the areas that was not served in the past. My general feeling is we’re talking about older, existing homes. It’s an opportunity for a young family or a senior on fixed income, if they qualify, to assist with projects like a roof, a rebuild, and you can’t replace them for that funding. The older homes have so much more character,” said Lang.

“In Plymouth County we probably don’t have the rural poverty that other counties have,” said Kass. “When you average it for the entire county we are pretty well off.”

Supervisors said that they were willing to give the program a try for a year. Lang said a federal grant from the Federal Home Loan program is being sought and less local funds would be needed if the grant is secured. A decision is expected for FY 2014 in October.

Lang also appeared at Woodbury County supervisors’ meeting the same day and requested funding.

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