Over $5.3 million has been allocated to three Polk County housing projects that will offer affordable rental rates to county residents, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund announced.

The money is from the federal American Rescue Plan Act that was passed by Congress in March 2021 to help speed up that nation’s recovery from the pandemic. Polk County received $95 million from the federal program. Last April, the county board of supervisors allocated $15.15 million of the funds to affordable housing programs.

The county designated $12 million for a grant program to support construction of affordable housing units or conversion of existing units, $3 million for a revolving loan program to help developers buy apartment buildings needing repair, and $150,000 for a homeless advocates pilot program.

The Polk County Housing Trust Fund, which is overseeing the grant and loan programs, received 22 applications for the grant program. In the fourth quarter, the trust fund signed contracts with developers of three projects that will provide 102 affordable housing units. The projects and the amounts allotted include:

  • Spire Property Management, which purchased 33 single-family houses in several Des Moines neighborhoods. The management group plans to meet the housing needs of larger families by offering houses with three to seven bedrooms, according to a news release. Homes will be available to households earning at or below 40% of the area median income, which in 2022 was $39,400. The group received $3.86 million.
  • Johnston Crossing II, a 50-unit, age- and income-restricted apartment project at 5409 N.W. Johnston Drive. The project is being developed by Columbus, Ohio-based Woda Cooper Cos. Forty-five of the development’s living units will be designated to people with annual incomes that are at or below 60% of the area median income. The project received $940,000.
  • Grand Tree Apartments, located at 2225, 2305 and 2315 Grand Ave. in Des Moines. The apartment buildings, which include 93 units, are undergoing a $17 million historical renovation. The project is being developed by Tree House Partners LLC, which includes Tim Rypma, Paul Cownie and Jeremy Cortright. Ten of the units will be designated for people with annual incomes that are at or below 30% of the area median income, which range from $20,700 for a single person to $26,600 for a family of three. The project received $511,000.

The contracts with the groups range from 15 to 20 years, said Matt Hauge, director of communications and outreach for Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

“This program is about keeping affordability in place for the foreseeable future,” Hauge said. “This investment is meant to be a big step forward toward creating long-term housing security.”

The trust fund has accepted three rounds of applications and will continue the competitive application process until all the money has been allocated. The third round of applications, which were submitted in early January, will be reviewed in February by the fund’s development committee and board of directors.

More information about the program can be found here.