Dave Daughton, Wayne Community Foundation Board Member
I serve in a couple of volunteer roles in my community—both on the Wayne Community Foundation and the Wayne County Housing Committee (WCHC). The latter is comprised of a small group of volunteers that have been working to develop housing opportunities in our Wayne County community for a number of years. We look at the entirety of Wayne County as our “community”, and feel that we all must work together to make things happen.
The work of the committee began to evolve when a major employer in the area, East Penn Manufacturing, announced and started construction on a large expansion that would bring 200+ additional jobs to the community. The WCHC felt that something more concrete was needed for the housing plan and solicited funds from community businesses, entities, and individuals to fund a comprehensive housing study.
The end result of the study was a multifaceted plan to develop housing in the community because they had identified the influx of new jobs, and also current commuters into the community would further exacerbate the lack of available housing. Re-purposing abandoned properties, a down-payment assistance program, and a delinquent tax property plan were three parts of the overall plan, along with the establishment of a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The RLF will help incentive developers both large and small to come to Wayne County and build, renovate and develop housing units for our workforce. The RLF can work in a number of ways, but the general premise is that developers would apply for construction-type loans, use the funds as collateral or operating dollars, develop the housing, and then pay back the loans at a very small interest rate, and/or with a reduction of the principal to be repaid.
To support the new housing plan, the WCHC decided to apply for a Rural Revitalization Grant through IEDA in the realm of Investing in Rural Iowa. The application was for a $20,000 grant, with a 1:1/2 match requirement. The committee collaborated with the Wayne Community Foundation to provide the $10,000 match for the application. The WCF is affiliated with the South Central Iowa Community Foundation. The WCF has been very active in the Wayne County community in philanthropic efforts over the years, and has committed funds toward developing housing in the past. WCF President Jared Chambers recently stated that “This is the type of project that community foundations were made for. We are very happy to assist the housing committee and hope that this grant will be just the start to a lot of great housing growth in Wayne County.”
This collaborative effort with the Wayne Community Foundation and the WCHC is important for the continued growth in our community. Working together to address community needs, like housing, will only make our County better!
*Following the writing of this blog, the WCHC received notification that they did not receive a Rural Revitalization Grant, but they will continue to address the identified housing needs in their community.