Former Story County Supervisor Lauris Olson began searching 11 months ago for an opportunity to increase the availability of long-term housing for local individuals and small families (2-3 members) with very low (or no) incomes who were living in temporary, tentative, over-crowded or unsafe situation placing them on the edge of homelessness or who were already homeless.
As a journalist, Lauris had written for over a decade about the factors that were limiting the accessibility of existing housing in the county to many local low-income residents and curbing the development of more units to meet the need. The depth of her knowledge expanded during her service as a county-wide elected official, sitting on boards and committees ranging from the Central Iowa Regional Housing Authority, which oversaw management of the federal Section 8 housing vouchers in a six-county area, to the executive committee of the Ames Economic Development Commission, with its focus on community growth and prosperity.
Ames was selected for the first project because it has the largest number in the area of known housing insecure and homeless people, has the largest number of living units in Story County, is the base for the local non-profit human service agencies most likely to work with people who are housing insecure, hosts a large multi-specialty clinic and a regional hospital, has an extensive public transit network and has several grocery stores and food pantries.
However, Ames also presented several obstacles, the most significant being a shortage Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.
Lauris Olson is president. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2023.
Kerry Whisnant, professor emeritus of physics at Iowa State University, is vice-president. Professor Whisnant is Ms. Olson’s husband. His term expires Dec. 31, 2022.
Tami Albright, a bookkeeper at the Octagon Center for the Arts and owner of True Path Reiki & Apotheary, is secretary/treasurer. Ms. Albright’s term expires Dec.31, 2024.
All may serve subsequent three-year terms.
Board membership will likely expand the second quarter after construction is completed and the first group of tenants move in.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and most financial advisors recommend that a household should not pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities. Anyone who pays more is considered ‘housing cost-burdened.’ Anyone paying over 50 percent is considered ‘severely housing cost-burdened.’
HUD experts believe that the remaining 70 percent should be enough for the individual or family to pay for food, medical care, transportation, clothing and miscellaneous household expenses.
The lower a household’s income is, the less money they have to meet their other expenses. Keeping housing expenses at 30% of income when a household’s income is only a third of the AMI can be the difference between having housing and homelessness.
HUD’s Section 8 housing voucher program, which subsidizes tenants’ rent by paying the other 70% of the market rate rent for a rental unit, is based on these recommendations. Vouchers allow the holder to choose, within reason, what type of housing they want and where. Landlords do not have to agree to accept a voucher.
As of mid-January, HUD has not released the area median incomes (AMI) for 2022.
The 2021 AMI in Story County for one person was $63,000 ($5,250 per month); two people $72,000 ($6,000 per month) and three people $81,000 ($6,750 per month).
At 30%, maximum allowable monthly income for one person would have been $,1575; two people was $1,800 and three people $2,025.
At 50%, maximum allowable monthly income for one person would have been $,1575; two people was $1,800 and three people $2,025.
By comparison, a person receiving the maximum Social Security Disability Insurance payment would have an income of $794 per month.
It will vary.
HUD’s most recent allowable fair market value rent and utilities for a studio or one-bedroom apartment in Ames is $682.
When Home Allies ran its initial calculations of monthly operating costs per apartment, we estimated a fair market rent of $600. Since then, the utilities are projecting natural gas prices this winter will be 50 to 100 percent more than last winter. We are also expecting the mortgage term on the project to be 20 years instead of 30 years. Therefore, we are now anticipating or operating costs to correspond to HUD’s $682, which is from 2020.
Thirty percent of $1,575, the maximum amount a person at the 30% AMI level could earn in 2021, would be $472.50 for rent. The rent subsidy would be $209.50 per month.
Thirty percent of $794, the maximum amount a person receiving SSDI could receive in 2021, would be $238.20 for housing. The rent subsidy would be $443.80.
Thirty percent of $2,625, the maximum amount a person at the 50% AMI level could earn in 2021, would be $787.50. The tenant would pay $682 in rent. No subsidy money would be used.
We expect many of the residents to have no income for the first several months. Their rent subsidies will be the full $682 if not being enrolled in a rapid rehousing program like ones offered by The Bridge, ACCESS and YSS.
With the possibility of such a wide range of tenant needs, having three years operating expenses guaranteed upfront is not only a good sustainability strategy, we expect the bank to require these reserves.
First, there aren’t enough vouchers for everyone. Only about 350 households in Story County have housing vouchers issued under the Section 8 program. In addition to having limited incomes, those holding vouchers must pass rather significant background checks. Prior alcohol or drug abuse that was accompanied by violent or destructive behavior, a conviction on certain drug charges, and an eviction from public housing are a few of the events that will disqualify someone from receiving a Section 8 voucher.
Also, the waiting time to get a voucher is about 18 months.
HUD did issue a round of ‘emergency’ Section 8 vouchers in a few months ago. Central Iowa Regional Housing Authority staff reported at the January 2022 meeting of the Two Rivers Region Community Housing Partnership that of the 76 they were allotted, only 22 of them remained for use in CIRHA’s six-county area.
The Veterans Administration has a similar independent housing program that operates on a more limited basis.
Both programs require yearly verifications of incomes to make certain the household still meets the income limits. Mid-lease updates are required if the household’s regular monthly income changes – Home Allies requires them with changes of $100 or more, HUD requires a “recertification” with a $200 change.
Home Allies uses the HUD manual’s Chapter 5 as its guide to calculating income, including assigning deductions as directed for elderly family members, some childcare expenses, full-time students and others.
Home Allies’ will use some of its own forms and procedures, instead of always using HUD’s, to verify information.
The Home Allies rent subsidies are only available to the tenants occupying a unit at 913 & 915 Duff Avenue. HUD vouchers are issued to the tenants, who can still use it even if they move to a new house or complex.
In the rare occasion when a tenant with Home Allies has eligible cash assets in excess of $2,000, the applicant must use some of the excess cash assets to pay market rate rent before they start receiving the rent subsidy based on their income. Funds held specifically in educational or retirement accounts, or funds received in an insurance claim or lawsuit that are reimbursements for prior losses or to be paid to a third-party, are exempt. HUD does not require recipients to use their cash assets to help pay their rent.
Copyright © 2023 Home Allies - All Rights Reserved.
Powered by GoDaddy