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Supervisors hear housing report

June 13, 2014
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville News

The Emmet County Board of Supervisors Tuesday heard a report on how the Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund has been helping residents of Emmet and surrounding counties improve their property.

The program, which includes Buena Vista, Emmet, Lyon, Osceola, O'Brien, Sioux and soon Dickinson counties, offers forgivable and low-interest loans to home owner occupants who meet credit guidelines.

Each county pays a 25 percent match with the rest of the money coming from the State Housing Trust Fund. To date, the fund has distributed over $1.6 million for home improvement projects. A total of $171,678 has been distributed in Emmet County.

Households under 30 percent of area median income are eligible for a forgivable loan of up to $7,500. Households at 31-80 percent of area medin come are eligible for a combination of a forgivable loan up to $7,500 and a 2 percent repayable loan up to $15,000. Maximum assistance is $22,500 per household.

Income limits for those falling under 30 percent of area median income in Emmet County are $21,348 for one- or two-person families. For those falling between 31-80 percent for the same size family, income limits are $56,928.

Sherry Zinn, housing specialist with Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund, said there is a waiting list in Emmet County for the program.

Fact Box

Housing Trust Fund info

For more information, go online to or email or call (712) 262-7225 Ext. 139 or check with your local city hall or the Emmet County Auditor's Office.

"There continues to be a lot of interest in the program," Zinn said.

Carol Keizer, Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund housing planner, said that while there are a lot of federal and state housing programs, few cover unincorporated areas as does the housing trust fund.

While a credit score of 620 is required, Keizer said there has not yet been a default in the program.

Zinn said registered contractors are required for project.

"We're more like a lending agency," said Keizer, adding that the trust is required to spend at least 30 percent of its income on projects for families earning under 30 percent of area median income.

Loan repayments go into a revolving loan fund Keizer said could be used to sustain the program if state funding should ever end.

Keizer also said it's possible to piggyback the program with standard bank loans.



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