By Brooke Sherrard
The next house built by Indian Hills Community College’s Construction Technology program will be in cooperation with the Chariton Valley Regional Housing Trust Fund with the goal of adding to the housing stock available to families with low to moderate incomes.
This is the most recent endeavor for the housing trust fund, which was created to provide home improvement grants and loans to low- to moderate-income homeowners.
The new house will have two to three bedrooms and will be priced according to the market. Program Manager Jennifer Appler said the goal of the project will be to demolish a dilapidated home with the purpose of rebuilding on that same site the following year.
This first project will not include a demolition, but Appler said the fund is looking at demolition sites for the future.
“There are some homes that are needing to be demolished, and we want to help out with that,” Appler said. “But if we are going to demolish we also want to rebuild.”
CVRHTF will sell the house after it is completed and plans to use the proceeds to build the next house.
Potential buyers will have to meet the guidelines for a low to moderate income as set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Iowa Finance Authority. The application and paperwork process will be similar to that for the home improvement loans and grants that are already available, Appler said.
Construction on the house will begin this November or December after the Construction Technology program finishes its current house project, Appler said.
Joe Starcevich, dean of IHCC’s Centerville campus, said the Construction Technology program chooses whom to work with on their homebuilding projects each year by soliciting proposals.
Starcevich said this housing project is interesting because of its goal of community improvement.
“The urban renewal aspect is really an extra feature of this particular home,” Starcevich said. “Hopefully it will be affordable housing for some area resident that will elect to buy it once it’s completed.”
The Construction Technology program, long known as Building Trades, is under the directorship of Mark Walsh. Classes range from 15 to 20 students, and students get the opportunity to work on all aspects of building a house from start to finish.
The Chariton Valley Regional Housing Trust Fund operates in the four-county area of Lucas, Monroe, Appanoose and Wayne counties under Executive Director Patti Lind. It has a 12-member board with three members from each county. The Appanoose County board members are George Johnson, Tod Faris and Carl Cisler.
Johnson, the Centerville building and code enforcement officer, said there has not been a new house built inside the city of Centerville for more than two years. During the four years he has been the building officer, only four new homes have been built.
Johnson said new construction is important to the revitalization of neighborhoods.
“That’s what we’re hoping to do with building a new home in areas around town where contractors may not think it’s worth their time and effort and expense to do it themselves,” he said.
Cisler, owner of Hometown Realty, called the project a win-win.
“The housing project stabilizes and improves declining neighborhoods,” he said. “Building new homes in declining neighborhoods would revitalize the neighborhoods and increase property values in the community.”
This project benefits the community, the neighborhood and the family that buys the home, Cisler added.
“Partnering with Indian Hills makes the project sustainable,” he said. “We can build a house, sell it and do the whole process again.”
CVRHTF is in its second year of grant funding. Its offices are located on the second floor of the Bradley Bank Building on the east side of the Centerville square. Its mission is to provide low-interest loans or grants to low- to moderate-income homeowners in order for the homeowners to make necessary repairs to improve the safety of their homes. Appler said the fund has already done a variety of projects including roofs, foundations, flooring, porch replacement, handicap-accessible bathrooms and electrical upgrades.
“Our goal is to make sure the homes themselves are a safe environment for the homeowners,” Appler said. “A lot of people in our communities live paycheck to paycheck, and they can’t necessarily afford to do the needed home improvements. For example, they may have a roof that is leaking and need financial assistance getting that roof repaired, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Anyone interested in starting a loan or grant process through CVRHTF can contact Appler at (641) 856-2173 ext. 223 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of the loan and grant application forms are currently available at all the city halls in Appanoose County. A website will be available soon for homeowners to download the application or fill it out online.
Some of the guidelines for the grants and loans are that they must be for stick-built homes and not mobile or manufactured homes and they must be owner occupied. Owners must show proof of homeowners insurance, or in some cases the ability to obtain insurance after the improvement is made. Grants are made to low-income homeowners while loans are made to moderate-income homeowners.
CVRHTF also recently completed an exterior paint project in Centerville focusing on Main, Maple and State streets.
“We were very pleased and excited with being able to improve the exteriors of several homes in Centerville,” Appler said.
The fund provided painting contractors and materials to paint the exterior of six homes in Centerville and funded the materials for a seventh home that was painted by the Betterment or Bust volunteer group. The painting contractors who worked on the projects were Greg Shondel of Shondel’s Painting and Chris Strube of Strube Builders.
“I have been thrilled because the people we have been helping with the paint program have been so positive and appreciative,” Appler said. “It makes my job very rewarding when I can help people out.”
Appler said the fund plans to continue the paint project in the other towns in Appanoose County next year.