Housing Agency opens $1 million campaign

By Dick Hogan Gazette staff writer
Sept. 18, 1999
CEDAR RAPIDS — When was the last time you attended a $188,000 breakfast?

That’s what a Friday morning breakfast was worth to the MidAmeri­ca Housing Partnership.

The private non-profit agency was kicking off a million-dollar capital campaign. MAHP’s mission is to provide affordable housing for lower-and moderate-income people.

Donations announced at the break­fast of business leaders and government officials totaled $188,000. The event was held in MAHP’s Osada project at 505 Third St. SE.

The largest donation Friday was from the Fannie Mae Foundation Regional Director Polly Nyberg of Chicago, in announcing the organization’s donation of $120,000, actually said $120 million, creating quite a buzz among the crowd. It was quickly corrected to $120,000 but provided other speakers with some levity.

Fannie Mae is a congressionally chartered, shareholder-owned company that is the nation’s largest source of home mortgage funds.

MAHP board President Tom Aller told of stopping Thursday night to see businessman Bill Quarton of Cedar Rapids, who is 96 years old. Aller said he asked Quarton to be his guest at the breakfast. Aller said Quarton responded, “Here’s the check, Tom. I stopped doing breakfast at 90.”

Quarton donated $50,000 to MAHP.

Bruce Anderson of Commercial Federal Bank said his organization is giving $18,000 to the MAHP campaign.

Aller said Friday’s contributions put the capital campaign “a little north of $300,000.”

Aller said MAHP would use $850,000 of the $1 million for its housing program.

MAHP would make loans to build affordable houses, and when the structures are sold and the loans repaid, MAHP would start the process over again.

Aller speculated that MAHP could do between 30 and 40 homes a year in that fashion. Raising the cash will help eliminate MAHP’s having to borrow money using a line of credit that costs the agency interest, Aller said.

The other $150,000 would buy equipment such as updated computers and a couple of pickups for MAHP crews, Aller said.

“We’re asking for contributions to raise a million dollars. It’s that simple,” Aller said.

“This is about providing a place for our workers to live.

” It’s not about providing a $100,000 or $120,000 home. “That’s not affordable,” Aller said, noting the median income in the area is $37,000 for a family of two. Years ago, Aller said, the area had plentiful housing and a highly unionized work force, but that has changed.

“Wages have been significantly reduced in our economy in the last 20 years,” Aller said. Many jobs today pay only $16,000 a year, which prevents, many people from buying a home.