Story County Community Housing Corporation (SCCHC) – A Community Land Trust – is a county-wide, community-based, non-profit corporation working to create and maintain affordable rental and family-owned housing. If you would like more information about the SCCHC, or if you would like to learn how you can support our work, please call (515) 292-3676. Ideas are also offered here and throughout our website.
Board members have been working with AMOS, A mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy, to educate and thus increase the visibility of affordable housing needs for low-income families in Ames and Story County. A Housing Conference will take place on March 29, 2016 at ISU Scheman’s Center to focus on one vehicle to move forward the construction of more affordable housing units — a Housing Trust Fund. Look for further information soon.
At our 2015 Annual Membership meeting, we discussed a potential project on Sixth Street across from the Ames Police Department. Ten units of affordable rental housing could be constructed on this site. The board and those present were supportive of moving ahead with the submission of a proposal to the City which we did in June with the help of John Lott and Natalie Carran of Benjamin Design Collaborative. Thanks to them for their enormous generosity in drafting the proposal for the SCCHC. More info can be found on the 2015 Project page.
Unfortunately, the city turned down our proposal, the only one which was submitted. We do have a 40 year track record, and our latest build, a 4-plex at the corner of S. 3rd and Kellogg, is impressive. However, they cited concerns about our financial capacity and about our oversight of a State grant obtained to purchase and renovate our 6-plex at 1018 Lincolnway. Although we did fall behind on our reports to the Iowa Housing Finance Authority, we indicated to city officials that a procedure is now in place to prevent further delays in submission of these reports thanks to Chris Martin and his Martin Property Management firm which is overseeing the administration and maintenance of our rental units for us. The reports certify that we rent to low-income families. This has always been our policy and so we are in compliance with the rules, but we did lag on filing these reports.
The City will re-issue the Call for Proposals. Their intent is to bundle the parcel on 6th Street with a portion of the Breckenridge parcel on State Street to attract larger developers. We wish the City would have accepted our proposal. We could have mustered the capacity to do a nine plex on that 6th Street site because we do have a dedicated membership and because the community of Ames is ready to get behind the construction of some affordable housing for low-income families.
Our Board is currently in discussions to purchase a lot on 8th Street in Ames to build another 4-plex. More information to follow.
Why work for affordable housing?
In reviewing City reports on affordable housing needs in Ames, outcomes for low-income families continue to be dismal. Nearly 50% of the households in Ames pay about 50% of their incomes for their housing. This housing burden causes families to live with the constant stress of making ends meet to cover rent and living expenses. Families need help when any extra, but normal, expense occurs. The cost of a car repair or dental appointment can be a major expense which they cannot afford.
When a family doesn’t have enough to cover such expenses, emergency help through churches and the Emergency Residence Project can help keep these families from losing their housing, but a more permanent solution is needed. That is why the SCCHC continues to work to create affordable housing.
In 1992, a housing needs assessment identified the need for 2,000 units of affordable housing. Habitat and SCCHC have built homes or apartments for about 50 families since that time. The city did respond to the calls of many in our community to direct Community Development Block Grant funds to the construction of affordable housing. We are closer to this reality, but not there yet. Your voice is needed to help the city create policies and take actions that will dramatically increase affordable housing units for our low-income, working families in Ames and Story County.
As a community-based organization, we want and need your support and input. Our SCCHC meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in the Collegiate United Methodist Annex, Room 202 at 130 S. Sheldon, Ames. Please feel free to attend.
If you’d like to become a member, there is a form located here. Thank you for supporting community-based, affordable housing initiatives in Ames and Story County.