HANNIBAL | The foundation has been set for a new affordable housing effort between North East Community Action Corporation, Rural Housing 360 from Iowa and other potential partners who gathered for their first meeting together Thursday at the NECAC Homeownership and Marion County Service Center.
Carla Potts, deputy director for housing development programs with NECAC, said the partnership would be the latest of “a lot of tools in our toolkit” for new affordable housing solutions following July's Tri-State Housing Summit in Hannibal. Rural Housing 360 focuses on helping people find affordable housing and solving local housing needs, mirroring two of NECAC's goals across their 12-county coverage area in Northeast Missouri. The forthcoming project will initially focus on constructing modular homes in various floor plans and configurations in Lewis, Marion and Monroe counties close to Iowa — with plans to expand in the future. Potts proposed the first summit in 2005, and she credited long-standing relationships and an ongoing conversation focused on affordable housing opportunities.
“I think since we worked in the area so long, as new opportunities arise, they think about the housing group because of all those past summits and all of the work that we've been doing,” Potts said.
The Thursday meeting was the first step for the latest affordable housing partnership, and Potts said the project will grow through monthly conference calls to reach out to prospective local partners like financial lenders, schools, contractors and real estate agents.
“You can never have too many partners,” Potts said, mentioning that community leaders and other area organizations would make ideal colleagues. “We're all in this together to increase the housing stock.”
NECAC provides weatherization and renovation assistance for older homes, and Potts said the latest project would join programs for affordable new homes like NECAC's partnership with Aspire — which employs prison inmates to build tiny homes while they work toward an apprenticeship and journeyman position upon their release.
The United States Census Bureau reported that the rate for owner-occupied housing units in Marion County dropped from 69% in 2012 to 66.9% in 2017, the latest year for available data. Statewide, the homeownership rate slipped from 74 percent in 2012 to 69 percent in 2017. And homelessness affects Missourians of all ages and corners of the state — the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness found that 5,883 Missourians experienced homelessness on any given day as of Jan. 1, 2018 — 706 of those people were family households, 507 were veterans, 534 were unaccompanied young adults between 18 and 24 years of age, 1,043 were individuals who experienced chronic homelessness and 32,133 were students experienced homelessness. Potts said she looks forward to a new opportunity to help people who are in need in the area.
“I'm feeling very excited, I'm very impressed with the work [Rural Housing 360] is doing, and I feel they feel likewise about our work,” Potts said. “I think that together we can help more people achieve that dream of homeownership.”
More information about the new affordable housing project is available by calling Potts at 573-324-6622 or visiting the Marion County Service Center at 3518 Palmyra Road in Hannibal.