We are back to introducing our Board members! This week it is Lisa Houser, the Executive Director with Habitat for Humanity of Iowa. When the Iowa Housing Partnership was in its planning stages, it was decided from the start that the board would represent all stages of housing and should include a homeownership person. That was easy with having Lisa as a Board member.
Lisa started her housing career in 2008 with Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. In 2012, she transitioned to Executive Director with Habitat for Humanity of Iowa and continues to serve in that role today. For well over 20 years, she has held various leadership roles with non-profit organizations.
Lisa was appointed by Governor Reynolds to serve on the “Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Force” and also the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. She is also a member of the “Iowa Rural Development Council.”
As the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Iowa, she oversees the Affiliate Support Organization, which supports 22 local affiliates across the state of Iowa. The organization covers four (4) core activities: Resource Development; Advocacy; Training and Technical Assistance; and Disaster Preparedness and Response. It’s a heavy lift, and Lisa does it well.
She also volunteers with various community organizations and activities in her hometown of Monroe, Iowa. Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in Child & Family Studies/Psychology from Northwest Missouri State University and attended the University of Iowa, Master of Social Work program. And she also holds a Certificate in Community Development Finance from the University of New Hampshire.
The Iowa Housing Partnership is fortunate to have Lisa and her strong knowledge – not just housing – but of the non-profit world as well. Her expertise has been integral to Iowa Housing Partnership’s growth.
We would like to thank the City of Muscatine and Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine for renewing their membership to Iowa Housing Partnership!
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The 2021 Iowa Legislative session wrapped up this week. We started with high hopes in January, and through the combined efforts of many affordable housing advocates, the state of Iowa is better our legislative successes with increased dedicated monies for the State Housing Trust Funds and increased funding for the Workforce Housing Credit, among others.
I would be remiss if on behalf of the Iowa Housing Partnership if we don’t acknowledge the efforts of Bob Rafferty and Rachel Ong, of The Rafferty Group. Without their commitment, I firmly believe we would not be in the position we are in now, and we truly thank them for how hard they worked (and talked a certain unnamed person, off the ledge numerous times).
While we were able to start the conversation and educate many, we were not able to establish a state-level affordable housing tax credit this year. This would have been paired with the federal low-income housing 4% (or bond) tax credit and would have been a significant aid to making many projects feasible.
Recently I enjoyed a podcast held by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, where they talked about affordable housing. The guests were Kris Saddoris of Hubbell Realty, Ashley Aust, also of Hubbell Realty and Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) Board member, and Brian Sullivan, Chief Operations Officer of IFA.
The podcast covered a lot of topics, including terminology. Let me talk about the term, “low income,” which was given to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. This credit is considered to be the most successful government-initiated program in the history of our government, in terms of private investment and product (affordable housing) units produced.
Think about that! In the history of our government. Too often we, as a society, forget we need all parts of our society to work, in order to be successful. Too often people forget where they came from.
When I graduated college, my first professional job was working for a U.S. Congressman in their Eastern Iowa office. My starting wage in 1990 was $12,000, or $5.76 an hour. Three months later, I got a raise to $14,000, meaning I now was making $6.73 an hour. I had a cheap apartment ($250 a month), a student loan payments, a child to support, and by the end of the month, I was close to zero, often relying on credit cards. For example, I could not afford car insurance or life insurance.
I was low income. Did not know it. And remember, I worked for a US Congressman!
That is an example of people in Iowa who can benefit from affordable housing efforts. The next time you complain that HyVee does not have enough checkers, the next time the drive-through line is super long, take a minute to think about that.
We should not shy away from a successful program because it has a “name,” or it will help “those kinds of people.” I recall meeting with a very successful banker in their main branch in Northwest Iowa, and the first thing this President stated was “I do not think our community would want those kinds of people.” With that, I pointed to his bank teller and said, “You mean her?” Taken aback, he could not say a word. I went to explain the people who benefit from this kind of a program. In the end the President not only supported a project but invested into a fund to help fund that project.
Twenty-three (23) states in our country have a state housing tax credit. Iowa needs one. And before anyone states, “we cannot afford another credit program,” Kris Saddoris during the podcast shared fantastic comment: if you have a mortgage loan, you are taking advantage of the biggest credit program in our county, the mortgage interest credit on your taxes. So, yes we can not only afford it, but have to have it to grow Iowa.
Affordable housing had a good legislature session in terms of increasing resources for affordable housing, but we need to do more. IHP is committed to doing more. We will be dedicated to outreach with our members, through meetings and other avenues, to promote affordable housing in Iowa.