Jenna Kimberley (left), president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, moderated a panel discussion on the housing supply during this week’s Affordable Housing Week Symposium. Panelists (left to right) were Carrie Woerdeman of Kading Properties, Rachel Flint of Hubbell Homes Inc. and Lance Henning of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity. Photo courtesy of Polk County Housing Trust

This week’s Affordable Housing Week Symposium, sponsored by the Polk County Housing Trust, included a panel discussion on issues related to the housing supply. Jenna Kimberley, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, asked the three panelists to share one idea they had for increasing the supply of affordable housing in Central Iowa. The following are the panelists responses.

Rachel Flint, vice president, Hubbell Homes: “This maybe isn’t one big idea but it’s something I want everyone in this room to think about. As individuals and a society, our beliefs drive our actions. I’m going to ask you, ‘What do you really believe?’ Your actions, do they support your belief?

“I grew up on a farm [in rural] Iowa during the farm crisis of the '80s. We had nothing. My grandparents brought us groceries every single week. Our house did not have traditional heat. If we wanted heat, we went outside and chopped down a tree. That’s how we heated our two-story farmhouse.

“And it gets cold on the farm. My mom talked about how she stayed up at night and didn’t sleep because she was afraid her three children would not wake up in the morning. We slept in sleeping bags. We had on stocking caps and mittens. I tell you this, as my mother laid in bed, staring at the ceiling at night praying to God, not once did she ask God for a house with 4-inch window trim or 33% stone on the front of the house.

“What are your beliefs? Do your actions reflect those beliefs? That’s what I ask.”

Lance Henning, president and executive director, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity: “We really would like to see us all begin working together regionally and thinking of housing as infrastructure. We know for a good regional economy, we have to have good infrastructure and housing needs to be one of the pieces that is there and healthy for our regional area to continue to thrive. We really need to think about that so that everyone has access to that infrastructure.”   

Carrie Woerdeman, director of development, Kaeding Properties: 
“My contribution is not a new idea but it is a really important thing that we’ve been talking about all day. And that’s that we need to forge partnerships. We need to work together. As developers, as employers, as city leadership, as nonprofit organizations, we need to work together to find ways to remove barriers and overcome hurdles. I challenge everyone to get outside our own selves and our own boxes and our own goals and try to reach across to those partners who all share the same end goals of more housing, more affordable housing, and work together to solve that problem.”

Related article: Housing programs get financial boosts from donations