Over 100 people gathered in St. Clair, Missouri City Hall gymnasium earlier this month to celebrate the provision of $2,500,000 to USDA Rural Development ( (RD) from Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB-Des Moines). Tammye Trevino, Rural Development’s Rural Housing Administrator joined me in accepting the funds in recognition of an outstanding partnership with FHLB-Des Moines, the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and the eight Multi-Family Housing (MFH) complexes that received grant funding for rehabilitation during 2009.
Having Administrator Trevino present was a tremendous honor and a highlight for all in attendance. She said, “Our goal is to make necessary improvements and bring a higher standard of living to the elderly and disabled residents of the properties receiving these funds. This financing is an example of the commitment by the Obama Administration to leverage public and private resources to increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural Missourians
We were very pleased to have the support of our federal elected officials represented by: Rachel McCombs with Senator “Kit” Bond; Jerryl Christmas with Senator Claire McCaskill; and Dan Engeman with Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer.
Missouri’s RD multi-family housing (MFH) portfolio of about 750 complexes and 18,000 units has been the largest or next to the largest in the nation for many years. Approximately 40 percent of this caseload was loans made to volunteer, non- profit boards that provided housing for the elderly and disabled. Since many of these complexes were built in the early 70’s the need for repairs and rehabilitation was becoming critical. There was also a sincere desire to keep the rental rates low and reasonable since many of the elderly and disabled tenants had very limited income, typically below $8,000. Since federal funds were limited we here in Missouri found a “white knight” in the FHLB-Des Moines Affordable Housing Program.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines is a wholesale cooperative bank that provides low-cost short and long term funding and community lending to more than 1,200 member banks. It devotes 10 percent of its net income each year to affordable housing.
Through my relationship with Curt Heidt, FHLB-Des Moines Vice President and Community Investment Officer, we were able to brainstorm and mold a plan to help our Missouri RD Section 515 MFH properties using their Affordable Housing Program (AHP). The AHP was designed to help FHLB-Des Moines member financial institutions and their community partners develop affordable housing for low-to moderate-income households. Some of the improvements have included new roofs, new energy efficient exterior doors and windows, new carpet, new appliances, new cabinets and upgrading to a more energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems.
My sincere thanks to Curt Heidt and the FHLB-Des Moines leadership team, the FHLB-Des Moines Board of Directors and the Affordable Housing Advisory Council for their commitment and funding support of this tremendously valuable program for rehabilitation of our MFH senior properties. It was a big step for them to enter the realm of our rental program but without their help, Missouri residents would have lost many of these properties. Now, not only are the properties available, but they also have a “face-lift” with things such as central heating and air, which most of us take for granted and they can remain affordable for our residents.
Some of the other partners in this process have been grant writers such as the staff of Regional Planning Commissions (RPC) or Community Action Agencies who have done an outstanding job with the grant writing process. Also, without a doubt a big thank you on the success of this program has been the volunteer boards that have dedicated countless hours with the ultimate goal of providing high quality affordable living options for the elderly and disabled in the many rural communities across Missouri. Finally, these grants would not have been available were it not for the involvement, participation, and sponsorship of FHLB local member banks and their commitment to this program and the benefit to their elderly in their communities.
Clifford Crawford, a resident of Leasburg Senior Citizens Home, one of the 2009 grant recipients, spoke on behalf of many residents by providing inspiring comments regarding how grateful they were to Federal Home Loan Bank and USDA Rural Development for the repairs and rehabilitation of their apartments.
I also want to recognize our RD national leadership for its help. The MFH program is a labor intensive program but through a “labor of love” the Missouri RD staff have partnered with FHLB, the grant writers, contractors, owners and volunteers and been truly committed to providing affordable housing to our senior citizens and for that I am very proud and thankful.
Submitted by: Janie Dunning, Missouri State Director, & George Thomas, Public Information Coordinator