MAHP 04-05 Writeup
Brief History of the Organization
MidAmerica Housing Partnership is a private non-profit, 501(c)(3), Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) with a mission to build, preserve, and enhance affordable housing. MAHP is a full service development, construction, and property Management Corporation with 32 full and part time employees with an annual operating budget of $2.6 million. MAHP serves an expanding radius of neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids creating and providing housing for working families, young professionals, the elderly, and disabled as a way of underpinning economic development throughout Iowa.
In thirteen years MAHP has produced 503 multi-family units, including 18 supportive units for the disabled, 94 units for the elderly, as well as constructing and renovating 103 single family homes in eleven communities across Iowa. Currently, MAHP is constructing eight duplexes in Dubuque, three single-family homes in Cedar Rapids and developing three more, Fifteen refinanced units for renovation at the historic Brown apartments, five more rehab projects, and a ribbon cutting for 20, new, three and four bedroom townhouses at Ann’s Gables this October.
MAHP has administered numerous grants and private contributions including federal, state, and local grants, tax credits, non-profit bonds, conventional debt financing, tax abatement, tax increment financing (TIF), foundation awards, corporate contributions, volunteer labor, and in-kind donations of equipment and labor.
Specific Programs Offered & Program Objectives
A variety of programs and services exist to support MAHP’s production and management activities. The needs of families change over time whether they are physical, emotional, or financial with housing vital to continued success. These supportive programs strengthen MAHP’s core function to provide affordable housing to low-income persons and offer families in Iowa the opportunity to access the American Dream.
MAHP’s free Homebuyer Certification Course is designed to answer many of the questions and concerns of prospective homebuyers and provide the critical link between first time homebuyers and an increasingly complex real estate industry. The course prepares participants to take the first steps and gives them the knowledge to make their first home buying experience a joyous occasion, saving time, money, and unnecessary frustration.
In partnership with Iowa State University Extension, MAHP offers free Financial Management Workshops designed to help participants take control of their money and begin building a positive financial future. Several different workshops are offered to cover important topics such as managing debt, protecting your money from financial scams, and what children need to know about money.
In 1999 MAHP introduced its Community Facilitator Program as part of a local effort to coordinate permanent housing with services on an “as needed” basis to avoid MAHP tenant displacement. MAHP’s Community Facilitators have social service backgrounds and a working knowledge of the local service continuum to offer one-on-one support and guidance including assistance with accessing community resources.
Stable housing, however, is often precarious for people with limited incomes. Their ability to obtain and maintain affordable housing is easily put at-risk by any sudden loss of income or unforeseen expense such as illness, disability, job loss, domestic abuse or lack of transportation. The strength of the Community Facilitator Program lies in its ability to leverage the credibility of MAHP and its programming on behalf of the tenants to better seek and secure services, which in turn promotes stability by preventing displacement.
The Start Program was created to give persons with negative rental histories the chance to secure housing. Applicants that have bad credit, negative landlord references, and/or minor non-violent criminal histories may enroll in this voluntary program. By re-entering the housing market through this structured program, tenants who would otherwise be denied rental opportunities, are given the opportunity to repair their rental history and re-establish credibility as a renter.
In the Spring of 2006, MAHP will restart the EcoYouth Salvage Center in order to better serve at-risk youth living in or primarily from distressed communities with housing related job-training and self-sufficiency initiatives. EcoYouth is an innovative program that provides at-risk youth the chance to acquire salable job skills and work experience by salvaging reusable building materials for resale, at very low cost, to the general public.
Number of People and Geographic Areas Served
The overall economic fragility of MAHP’s service population remains in close alignment with the “near-homeless” and “at-risk” populations in Cedar Rapids as a whole. The following comparisons taken from the Continuum of Care Planning and Policy Council Survey of July 30, 2004 and MAHP’s own demographic data helps to highlight the similarities between these at-risk households in Cedar Rapids and MAHP’s 787 tenants, including 383 children.
Near-Homeless MAHP Tenants
51% Under the age of 18 51%
65% Earning at or below minimum wage 74%
84% Earning at or below poverty level 82%
31% Employed 65%
83% Unmarried 88%
7% African American 18%
14% All Minorities 41%
A review of application processing procedures in December of 2005 revealed that a standard for applicant credit scores had been put into place, by one or more, members of the property management department. The credit score requirement stated that all applicants must have a score of 500 or more to be acceptable as a MAHP resident. This inappropriate requirement was removed immediately. In addition to this change in resident selection requirements, MAHP began extensive advertising using flyers, newspaper classifieds, internet classifieds and PSAs. Application workshops were also offered to local non-profit groups to provide practical instructions on how to submit successful rental applications. These changes have increased MAHP’s occupancy rate and reduced the number vacant units from 117 to 50.
Home sales slowed in 2005 due to the lack of subsidy dollars from State and Federal Home programs. The reduction in first time homebuyer support placed many of MAHP homes outside the reach of new buyers despite their lower cost compared to market rate homes. MAHP has worked to overcome this limitation by seeking out new sources of low interest mortgage products from financial institutions like Bankers Trust in Cedar Rapids Iowa.
2006 Funding Forecast
In 2006 MAHP will be able to take full advantage of the tax relief it has been provided by the Iowa Legislature. During MAHP’s first few years, properties owned by MAHP were afforded a tax exemption due to our nonprofit status. After our 4th year the City Assessor decided that MAHP was no longer tax-exempt and that if we pressed the issue he would remove our tax exemption on our earlier properties. MAHP went to the State Legislature and requesting clarifying legislation so that all of MAHP’s properties would be considered exempt. The exemption was approved retroactive to January 2005 with an approximate annual value of $150,000.
At the July 2005 Board meeting the staff recommended the sale of the MAHP offices. Conservative calculations indicate that MAHP will save over $150,000 in overhead with the elimination of this expense. MAHP’s goal is to sell and move to our location at Osada by November 18th. In addition to the general overhead savings, it is believed that MAHP’s offices locate in Osada will have a positive impact on occupancy for the building generating another $70,000 in revenue due to increased occupancy.
From budget 2005, MAHP staffing costs have been reduced by $110,000 this reduction is anticipate to be carried through to 2006.
From the Sale of the MAHP office building we will derive $50,000 in donations and sales benefit and a reduction of a million dollars in debt.
Increasing occupancy will have a conservative net effect of $100,000.
Efforts to restructure MAHP’s property holdings will also impact MAHP in 2006. MAHP has systematically reviewed its multifamily properties and liquidated under performing properties with high maintenance costs. This has been achieved by converting single-family rental homes to home ownership and by marketing smaller multifamily properties to special purpose non-profits and property investors. The impact of these portfolio adjustments has and will continue to reduced MAHP’s over debt level and removed non-performing properties that must be subsidized by other MAHP activities. Future multifamily development at MAHP will continue to focus on the development of new multifamily units that are deeply subsidized and new constructed. These units will provide the community with high quality housing that is affordable the consumer and sustainable for MAHP the provider.
Production for 2006 Identified
Single Family Home Development
In 2006 MAHP will construct 12 single-family homes
8 single family homes in Dubuque – $80,000 net
4 single family homes in Cedar Rapids – $50,000 net
Additional opportunities for single-family housing development will be explored in the Oak hill Jackson neighborhood where new zoning rules will allow new opportunities for infill housing construction.
Multifamily Home Development
Application for a Tax Credit preservation for the Brown Apartments – 15 units – $170,000 net
Refinancing of Agin phase I and Four Oaks. – $150,000 net.
Collection of Ann’s Gables development fee $200,000.
Kids, Home and Community
MAHP has launched its Kids Home and Community Campaign to build up the organizations working capital and reduce its debt burden. This fund raising effort will mobilize $300,000 for MAHP and will compliment MAHP’s efforts to reduce its overhead. The Kids Home and Community campaign includes the following components.
AdoptAHome@MAHP gives donors an opportunity adopt a MAHP home for a family who needs a home today. Anyone who adopts a townhouse or community room at Ann’s Gables will have their name along with a dedication etched onto a plaque to be permanently placed above the door of the townhouse or community room of their choice. As an AdoptAHome@MAHP sponsor for one of MAHP’s 391existing homes, your name will be etched on a brass plate to be permanently displayed in the sunlit Osada atrium.
Your support will help to keep MAHP strong and the American Dream alive for those who need it most. If you’re interested, please call 365-6247 for all the details.
Adopt A Home:
• $1000 for one of 391 existing MAHP homes
• $2,000 for one of 20 new townhouses at Ann’s Gables
• $5,000 for one of 4 community rooms at Ann’s Gables
Volunteerism and Community Engagement
To preserve MAHP’s cash funding and raise local awareness MAHP has greatly expanded its use of volunteer labor to reduce its labor costs and increase its production capacity. MAHP’S LendAHand@MAHP program includes a number of which are recruited for using MAHP’s LendAHand@MAHP Electronic Newsletter.
LendAHand@MAHP participants are linked together by an electronic newsletter that informs recipients about upcoming volunteer projects as well as resident needs such as furniture, clothing, kitchen accessories, lamps, etc. With up to date and dependable information about community needs recipients can be involved in multiple ways that fulfill pressing and present needs. Recipients are able to see the difference that they make by fulfilling specific needs of the community while learning more about MAHP and the extent that affordable housing is beneficial to our community. So far in 2005 MAHP has recruited over 850 volunteers who gave over 2,700 hours of volunteer labor.
Furnish A Change
Equipped with detailed knowledge of one family your group funds, organizes, and designs a room or an entire apartment for that family. Quite often MAHP serves families who are lacking basic furniture items such as beds, dressers, lamps, etc. Volunteers participating in this project will furnish a change for residents who could benefit greatly by having their apartments transformed into homes.
CPR for Apartments
Volunteers Clean, Paint, and Repair apartments for new residents. Wielding paint brushes and cleaning supplies participants move through these future homes and enable MAHP to move in more individuals and families in a more efficient and expedient fashion.
House to Home
Volunteers aid MAHP staff in fixing up older houses as well as finishing newly built ones. Once a house has been transformed into a home it is sold to a low to moderate-income homebuyer. Activities in these houses include landscaping, interior and exterior painting, basic plumbing, electrical, demolition, carpentry, as well as deep cleaning.
While MAHP has clearly been negatively impacted by some of the events that transpired in 2004, it’s strong leadership, rich relationships and asset base will pull it though and support a positive future. Cash flow has been MAHP biggest challenge in 2005, but with receivables well over $597,000 relationships with lenders will get MAHP to 2006. In 2006 overhead reductions, rent collection, development fees and fundraising will move the organization forward on a positive financial course. Continued public relations efforts in the form of initiatives like FurnishAChange@MAHP and AdoptAHome@MAHP will be used to maintain MAHP’s profile as a major contributor the local economy and as a provider much needed affordable housing.
- MAHP 2003 Annual Report
- Cedar Rapids initiative seeks to improve Wellington Heights neighborhood