The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

January 4, 2013

Supervisors pledge dollars to housing fund

Dollars would match state-appropriated funding of affordable housing in southeast Iowa

OTTUMWA — The more money area counties are able to generate, the more they will receive in funding to help those in need of affordable housing.

Ellen Foudree, director of the Area 15 Regional Planning Commission, asked the Wapello County Supervisors to pledge their support of the AHEAD Regional Housing Trust Fund at the board’s meeting Thursday afternoon.

AHEAD, for which Area 15 is the administrative entity, promotes and preserves affordable housing for low-to-moderate income households in Davis, Jefferson, Keokuk, Mahaska, Van Buren and Wapello counties.

“Annually the Iowa Legislature appropriates $3 million to the State Housing Trust Fund [SHTF] for distribution to eligible entities throughout the state of Iowa,” Foudree said. “Our six-county region ... is eligible for up to $276,683 per year. But in order to maximize that leverage, we have to match that with 20 percent in local funds.”

She said the region needs to generate $69,171 to leverage the funding.

AHEAD became operational in calendar year 2011, and in the first three years, local funds have been contributed by Area 15 through donations and contributions from other private entities, such as financial institutions and community foundations.

Each year, Area 15 has to submit an application in September for the following calendar year, and local funds have to be pledged by that deadline.

This November, the AHEAD board of directors discussed how to generate those pledge funds for the 2014 application cycle.

“The decision by the board from each of the six counties was that ... I visit each [county] during their budget cycle and request consideration of a per-capita contribution,” Foudree said. “The board directed that we consider requesting 15 cents per capita for each to generate [nearly $15,300], which would leverage $4 for each local dollar in contribution.”

Area 15 would then have a base application of nearly $76,300, she said.

“Of course we would continue to seek private donations from other sources, but we wanted to look at leveraging at least a base pledge,” she said.

Supervisor Greg Kenning, who also represents Wapello County on the AHEAD board, said this is the only way the board saw that they could do something so AHEAD could become self-sustaining.

“Otherwise we’d be one year on, one year off, one year way off,” Kenning said. “Just in what we get for this county in rental assistance alone is almost six times what we would be investing.”

Foudree said in the fund’s first 21 months of operation, Wapello County distributed $61,953 in AHEAD dollars, 49 percent of which went to owner-occupied housing rehab projects. The remaining 51 percent went to rental and utility assistance to county general assistance offices.

“The impacts of those housing activities has been 88 households served,” Foudree said. “It’s impacted 181 people. Fifty-six of those were minors, 23 were disabled or handicapped and 12 were age 62 or older.”

She said Area 15 would have to have a pledge from each county that funds would be available upon the award of the SHTF dollars. Foudree has been to the Mahaska County Supervisors and will visit the remaining four counties in the next several weeks.

“I wouldn’t see any problem myself in making that available July 1,” said supervisor Jerry Parker. “It’s a relatively small amount, and you could use this as leverage on other counties.”

The $276,000 figure is the maximum amount Area 15 could draw down from the state housing trust fund, Foudree said.

“If we do not leverage what’s earmarked for our region, it stays with the state and is redistributed elsewhere,” Foudree said.

It’s a four-to-one leverage, she said.

“So if we come up with more match, we get more money,” said supervisor Steve Siegel. “I’m optimistic we could come up with that funding. I think we already have it.”

The supervisors also approved:

• A proposal from PCS for a design consulting evaluation of the county’s website, which would cost $1,600.

• The appointment of Sheriff Deputy Don Phillips to chief deputy.

• The Avery Estates subdivision, which includes one lot along Rabbit Run Road.

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