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Housing programs get financial boosts from donations


Efforts to provide affordable housing in Polk County and to reduce the number of evictions occurring in Iowa received financial boosts this week: The county supervisors approved allocating $15.1 million from the federal government to three local programs, and Wells Fargo announced a $650,000 donation to a statewide eviction diversion program.

The announcements were made during Affordable Housing Week events sponsored by the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

The Polk County Board of Supervisors this week approved allocating money from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act to three housing programs. Specifically, the supervisors allocated:

  • $12 million to a capital funds program that supports the acquisition, conversion and/or construction of permanent multifamily housing for underserved populations. Those groups include the homeless, people reentering the community after being in jail or prison, older adults, and households with children. In addition to housing, supportive services such as workforce training is expected to be offered.
  • $3 million to a revolving loan fund that can be used for short-term bridge loans, acquisition loans, or due-diligence and pre-development-related expenses.
  • $150,000 for Central Homeless Advocates, a pilot program that will pay for two community advocates for a two-year period. The advocates, who won’t be tied to a particular program, will help people find housing.

The pilot program will be managed by Homeward, previously known as the Polk County Continuum of Care. The county expects to enter into an agreement with the Housing Trust Fund to manage and allocate money from the other two programs.

“These funds represent a once-in-a-generation chance to create permanent housing stability for families,” said Matt Hauge, the trust fund’s director of communication and community outreach. “The fact is, more work remains. But these dollars are essential to meeting the critical needs of our community’s most vulnerable populations.”

Micah Kiel, vice president for community relations and philanthropy at Wells Fargo, announced the company’s donation to Iowa Legal Aid’s eviction diversion program during a symposium on housing affordability held today.

In 2021, there were 12,928 eviction cases in Iowa, according to Kiel. Two-thirds of those cases were filed in the state’s most populous counties: Polk, Black Hawk, Linn, Johnson, Pottawattamie and Scott, he said. In addition, 41% of the evictions involved minorities, 66% involved women and 30% involved people with a disability. Sixteen percent of Iowa’s population are minorities, 50% are women and 8% have a disability, he said.

“We have a problem with disparate impact here in Iowa when it comes to evictions,” Kiel said.

“When we look at [Iowa Legal Aid’s] program that has a roughly 90% success rate of the cases they serve avoiding evictions … we think this could be a potential systemic change in our state,” Kiel said. “And that’s why we’re investing in this.”

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