GREENE COUNTY NAVIGATION:
As in most Iowa communities, having housing choices for all residents is a challenge in Greene County. A comprehensive housing assessment discovered a low number of open rental units and homes for sale, indicating a need for additional housing stock. While a definite need exists, there has not been a sustained effort to address the needs for additional housing stock. Only twenty units were constructed between 2010-2016, and none of these were rental units. A more thorough review indicates a particular housing shortage for those making less than $25,000 or more than $50,000.
This concept can be adapted from the Des Moines model. The goal is to offer lower than market rate mortgages to home buyers in a specified area, and in many cases, help them renovate their new home.
For Greene County we would propose the following actions:
- Create a new non-profit and capitalize it with at least $500,000
- Create mortgage infrastructure at a 2% or 3% lending rate for new mortgages
- Designate an area in the county (or the full county) where lending is possible
- Use initial capital to do 2 mortgages and purchase 1-2 blighted properties to fix up and sell in initial year
- Offer $10,000 to each new homebuyer as a 0% forgiveable loan over 5-year time period. Dollars can be used either for down payment or to make improvements on their home
- Option to partner with a local financial institution
The Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) offers home loans for repairs and renovations in targeted areas in Des Moines. The program offers homeowners up to $10,000 in a forgivable loan if the unit is owner-occupied. Ultimately, the program aims to improve neighborhoods and increase owner-occupied home ownership to stabilize and strengthen neighborhoods.
The rural housing shortage in Greene County is caused by several factors, however there is only 1 solution – bridging the gap between the cost to build and the cost to sell. In order to achieve affordable rents and/or new home prices, the county needs to work with developers to create a revolving loan housing program to address the issue head on.
The goal of this fund is three-fold:
- Lure developers to Greene County
- Create a self-sustaining fund
- Achieve enough success to make the program obsolete
Revolving Loan / Funding Pool
- 70% of Funds for Traditional Loans – Low Interest
- 30% of Funds for Forgivable Loans
Last Money in the Project
- Developer 10% – First Money In
- Traditional Bank $60% (1st Mortgage) – Second Money In
- Housing Program Fund 30% (2nd Mortgage) – Last Money In
Housing Program Funds
- 70% Loan (2% – 30 Years)
- 30% Forgivable Loan (10% Forgiven / Year – 10 Years)
- 100% of forgivable loan must be paid back if property is sold within 12 years
The fund will be created with resources from three pools of funding: Public Funding, State of Iowa, and the Private sector. Based on the $1B+ taxable valuation of Greene County, low current debt and size of housing needs, we are recommending a fund of $3M, supported equally by all three funders.
Greene County can create their 1/3 of the fund by either bonding, using TIF dollars or a combination thereof. As this is taking place, 1/3 should be raised privately, and we believe that is achievable in Greene County. The last 1/3 should then be applied for at the State level either through the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) and/or Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). Several discussions have taken place with both agencies and we believe they will come to the table with this funding should the municipality be able to secure their share.
Once the fund is secured, Greene County Development Corporation (GCDC) should oversee and administrate the fund.
In the bonding scenario, we believe the worst case scenario (meaning zero homes were built and sold) would be an increase in property taxes of less than $2.00/citizen. This is, of course, highly unlikely. We also believe you can use TIF dollars generated from new windmills and completely remove the need to bond.
PROS of County Wide Housing Program in first 3 yrs
- 10-50 new units of housing
- 30-200 new people/families
- $30,000 – $150,000 new annual property tax revenue
- Helping to solve housing concern for local businesses
CONS of County Wide Housing Program in first 3 yrs
- Potential tax increase of >$2.00 per county resident
Establish a board of directors and nonprofit to rehabilitate properties
Work with local companies to acquire upfront capital for nonprofit investment
Identify and acquire available property and land
Identify first nonprofit project*
Issue RFP for project and select developer. When complete, demonstrate impact of investments.
*Priority projects should include the empty school building in Jefferson, the vacated school land in Grand Junction, and the available land in Paton; see the Regional Communities section for details.