Stakeholders say public and private partnerships are helping to create more housing opportunities in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.
More than 100 business people, government leaders, residents and community representatives heard about cutting-edge initiatives and programs during the Tri-State Housing Summit June 13 at the Rialto Banquet Hall, a restored theater in Hannibal.
The annual event was hosted by the not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation, Two Rivers Regional Council of Quincy, Ill., and the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission of Burlington. NECAC organized the first summit in 2005.
The keynote speaker John Santner, Midwest Region Vice President for NeighborWorks America, a Congressionally-chartered and funded not-for-profit organization that helps communities with development efforts. He praised partnerships that have helped create more housing opportunities.
"I always appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about how we can continue to work together and effectively address some of the unique housing needs, especially in rural America," Santner said. "NECAC is an absolutely wonderful example of how locally-driven, tailored approaches can address some of the challenges facing rural America today."
NECAC has been a chartered member of NeighborWorks since 2004. Last year, the 240 NeighborWorks partnering agencies around the nation served more than 450,000 families.
Iowa native Jason Mohr, Great Plains Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said recent agency innovations are aimed at making owning a home more affordable while stabilizing neighborhoods and helping the economy of communities.
Mohr said "responsible homeownership is a cornerstone of the American dream" and urged public and private partners to continue their work in easing roadblocks to homeownership.
"With the proper focus, these regulations can be changed," he said. "We can solve this issue, but it requires all levels of government working together and further collaborating with the private sector to share new ideas and to apply new technology and evidence-based practices."
One surprise came when USDA Missouri Housing Programs Director Pam Anglin presented NECAC with $365,700 to expand the Self-Help Housing Home Rehabilitation Program to an additional four Missouri counties. Last year, NECAC was awarded a $159,000 USDA grant for the program in Marion, Monroe, Pike and Ralls counties. The new grant will allow expansion to Lincoln, Montgomery, Shelby and Warren counties.
In his remarks, NECAC President and Chief Executive Officer Don Patrick said the Summit appropriately was being held in June, which is National Homeownership Month.
"We, the partners of the Tri-State Housing Summit, are already proven winners," Patrick said. "By building upon our history and past successes, we can create even better communities in the future that lies ahead."
Remarks also were given by former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz, a member of the Tri-State Development Summit steering committee. Housing is a task force of the larger group, which covers 36 counties in the Tri-State area and will hold its next summit Oct. 24 and 25 in Quincy. Scholz called the Housing Task Force a "superstar."
"I have to commend all of you because I know we like to talk about policy, but you’re out there where the rubber meets the road and doing this work that is changing lives and changing communities," he said.
Other speakers included Two Rivers Regional Council Executive Director Tamitha Ague; Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission Assistant Director Zach James; Quincy Area Habitat for Humanity President Lee Lindsay; Little Dixie Community Action Agency Self-Help Housing Training/Technical Assistance Provider Randy Griffith; Illinois USDA Rural Development Specialist Diana Belknap; and NECAC weatherization and homeownership clients Cora Glenn and Michael Groff.
Also in attendance were Missouri State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, State Rep. Louis Riggs, State Rep. Jim Hansen, and field staff from the offices of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley.
More information about the Tri-State Housing Summit and homeownership efforts is available by calling NECAC at 573-324-6622.
NECAC streamed the Tri-State Housing Summit live on Facebook. You may watch the replay on their page.