C.R. Council to Hear MAHP Definition of ‘Affordable’

The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Sat., Sept. 18, 1999

By Pam Hinman
Gazette Staff Writer

CEDAR RAPIDS — With a capital campaign under way to create affordable housing in Cedar Rapids, MidAmerica Housing Partnership officials are going to have to come up with a definition of “affordable” when they give a presentation to the City Council.

Council members agreed this week to wait to make a decision on a 30-year private redevelopment agreement with the Osada partnership, which is connected with MAHP. The Osada apartment complex, 905 Third St. SE, is an old grocery warehouse that was converted to 67 apartments.

Most of the apartments are considered “affordable,” with lower rent for qualifying low-income tenants. A few of the Osada apartments rent at market-value, or full price.

In 1997, the city gave MAHP $350,000 toward the Osada project, which opened in 1998.

Jennifer Pratt, of the city development department said the city’s involvement in the private redevelopment agreement is more of a technicality than anything.

But several citizens objected to the proposed redevelopment agreement during a public hearing this week, prompting the council to delay a decision.

Objectors cited several concerns,; including the length of the contract, the fact that Osada has been operating a relatively short time, that several people have been evicted from Osada and that’s what MAHP promised would be “affordable” housing isn’t.

Pratt said the redevelopment agreement commits the city to reimbursement of property tax generated by the added value of improvements made by MAHP.

MAHP officials can’t attend next week’s council meetings, but will meet with commissioners soon.

Council members say helping MAHP is justified because the city doesn’t handle public housing. The city OK’d a $54,000 loan to MAHP in April 1998, but payment was delayed because of severe storm damage to the MAHP building.

And in July, the council approved annual payments of $50,000 to MAHP over the next four years for a program that will make more rental units available and provide help for first-time home buyers.

Existing homes also will be fixed and sold through the program.

Now MAHP is asking the city to contribute, $50,000 toward repair of the agency’s headquarters.

The building at 701 Center Point Rd. NE sustained more than $200,000 in damage in the ” June tornado. The agency is now headquartered in donated offices on the third floor of Firstar Bank, 222 Second Ave. SE.

Contact writer Pam Hinman at (319) 398-8339.