After the Newton City Council’s recent decision to back a four-county Local Housing Trust Fund to further address affordable housing needs, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors appointed one of its governing body representatives and a realty expert from a local law firm to serve on the board overseeing the program.
The counties of Jasper, Boone, Marion and Warren are directly involved in the LHTF program, whose mission is to coordinate projects and develop long-term planning programs with local governments. Supervisor Brandon Talsma offered to have himself placed onto the LHTF board for the first year or two alongside Caitlin Otto of Otto Law Office, PLLC.
“Each county gets two representatives. The guy that’s kind of spearheading it wants to get the ball rollin’ on this so that we can get qualified and get a (nonprofit status) set up,” Talsma said. “One person has to be a public representative, the other one cannot be a public representative.”
Upon the formation of the LHTF board of directors, the organization would be able to award grants from dollars allocated by Iowa Finance Authority for affordable housing projects in the four respected counties involved.
Andrew Collings, principal planner of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, told the Newton Daily News on July 8 that all four counties and their respected cities are close to finalizing their support of the LHTF. At this time, the amount of money the LHTF board would have to work with is uncertain until it is fully formed, approved and makes a submittal for funding.
Before the aforementioned four-county LHTF was even proposed, most of central Iowa did not have an LHTF. Typically, Collings said, they are operated and managed by local councils of governments. Until this past year, four of 99 Iowa counties had not formed or been a part of a LHTF.
Collings said, “The board is ultimately responsible for selecting the projects that they fund. Now those projects will be coming from organizations or cities or whoever wants to advance affordable housing in the regions. They would apply for those dollars. They would have to have a type of program or project that they want to do.”
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