As we all settle into the summer activities, a sense of normalcy has greeted us. Do you wear a mask, or not? Our world has changed, that is for sure! Regardless of one’s politics or feelings, there’s one thing that we can all agree on: Safe, decent, and affordable housing should be available to everyone.
This week, we introduce board members in the trenches of affordable housing, specifically for mental health. This week it will be devoted to Stacy Kiser-Willey. Stacy joined our board a year ago and is our regional representative from Eastern Iowa.
Stacy is the Executive Director of Vera French Housing in Davenport. Vera French Housing Corporation (VFH) was formed in 1994. Vera French Housing provides low-income scattered-site permanent supportive housing, including multiplex units, duplexes, and single-family houses, located in Davenport and Bettendorf. Vera French Housing keeps properties affordable through various funding mechanisms, targeting 60% AMI or below.
These developments offer permanent supportive housing and serve people with a diagnosed mental illness. VFH has a passion for providing affordable housing that keeps people stably housed, out of the hospital, and out of the criminal justice system. Many tenants have lived in a VFH property for over 20 years, with the average length of stay over ten years.
VFH relies on the support of community partners to provide services to its tenants, who have access to an array of services that help them maintain their housing. Vera French Housing is the sole provider of permanent supported housing for persons with mental illness in the Quad Cities and is the housing arm of Vera French Community Mental Health Center.
Stacy has been in her role for ten years; previously, Stacy worked as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and ran Nursing Homes and Retirement Communities. She received her Bachelor of Science from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, majoring in Nursing Home Administration and then obtaining her license in Nursing Home Administration. Stacy is from Wilton, Iowa, and is a life-long Iowan.
Stacy exemplifies an affordable housing advocate and is also the Chair of the Quad Cities Housing Cluster. The Cluster is a consortium of bi-state providers that work to collaboratively address the overall housing needs of the Quad Cities.
Too often, a segment of the housing community gets under-represented, which is so true of those dealing with mental health issues. The Vera French website so accurately stated:
“Mental health problems affect everyone. Ten percent of children and twenty-five percent of adults in America struggle with mental illness. They are our friends, our family and even us.”
The Iowa Housing Partnership is very lucky to have a housing advocate like Stacy on our board.
We want all to remember; the Iowa Housing Partnership was created to be THE affordable housing advocate and educator, and to do that, we need your help. Let’s put our creative efforts together; let’s push to a common goal, to create an affordable housing network. Participate in IHP’s Zoom calls, offer ideas on topics we can explore.