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Housing trust views disbursement change

Financing available for Emmet County homeowners

May 23, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

The Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund Thursday agreed to consider a change in policy regarding time limits on funds disbursement at its June meeting.

The meeting was held telephonically.

The State Housing Trust Fund requires that prior awards be closed within 24 months before funds can be drawn down on future awards.

The proposed changes are:

n Each county is required to disburse reserved funds to eligible homeowners within 18 months of the annual award.

n Any county that does not have homeowner applications pending by the one-year anniversary of the annual award shall be allowed to request applications for agency awards within their county.

n Any county that has not expended funds to eligible homeowners or made agency awards by the 18-month anniversary of the annual award shall allow another participating county to purchase their undisbursed funds on a 1:4 ratio. In the event that multiple participating counties wish to purchase undisbursed funds, the funds will be available to the county or counties with the longest waiting list.

In other business, board members reviewed the financial statement and distribution of funds by county. Sherry Zinn of Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission which administers the trust said most counties could use more applications, with the exception of O'Brien.

New loans were also approved and members reviewed the waiting list.

Members also discussed agency awards made at the last meeting to the Family Crisis Center and Siouxland Habitat for Humanity. There remained a question regarding a possible award to the Buena Vista Habitat for Humanity. The issue dealt with whether a loan should remain with the homeowner or the property.

Carol Keizer, planner with Northwest Iowa Planning & Development, said Buena Vista Habitat for Humanity wants to keep the loan with the homeowner and not the house. The trust agreement says people need to stay in their home for five years.

Keizer said she would follow through on the matter, and if it required a change in the loan agreement, she would contact the state.

In another matter, Keizer said $68,000 in principle payments had come back from loans. Member Phil Bootsma moved that the funds be disbursed on a first-come, first served basis, and the board approved.

The board also reviewed the trust 2014 housing assistance plan (HAP).

Keizer called members' attention to the fact that over 61 percent of housing stock in the trust fund region is over 50 years old.

"That really speaks loudly to why rehabilitation is an important program," Keizer said, adding that an Iowa Housing Authority study showed the same results.

Other priorities are affordable home ownership and the need for rental housing.

Another proposed change is to raise grants to households at or below 30 percent of median income to $7,500 from the current $5,000. Under the new plan, those in the 31-80 percent of median income could receive a $7,500 grant and a $15,000 loan for a total award of $22,500.

Keizer said the board will act on the new HAP at its annual meeting 10 a.m. Thursday, June 20 at Sheldon City Hall.

Board member Phil Bootsma noted the changes would decrease the number of projects that could be assisted but that the changes would also help counties that haven't been able to use up funds. He said the change in the policy would also help fund disbursement.

The housing trust annual meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at Sheldon City Hall 10 a.m. Thursday, June 20.

The trust administers grants and loans to low- and mid-come persons meeting income and other eligibility guidelines.

For information about trust fund eligibility requirements and an application, see:



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