Housing supply

Panelists share ways to increase supply of affordable housing

Jenna Kimberley (left), president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, moderated a panel discussion on housing supply at 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 housing supply issues. Jenna Kimberley, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, asked the three panelists to share an idea they had for increasing the supply of affordable housing in central Iowa. Here are the responses from the panelists.

Rachel Flint, Vice President, Hubbell Homes: “It may not be a great idea, but it’s something I want everyone in this room to think about. As individuals and as a society, our beliefs guide our actions. I’m going to ask you, ‘What do you really believe?’ Do your actions support your conviction?

“I grew up on a farm [in rural] Iowa during the farm crisis of the 1980s. We had nothing. My grandparents brought us groceries every week. Our house had no traditional heating. If we wanted heat, we would go outside and chop down a tree. This is how we heated our two-storey farmhouse.

“And it’s cold on the farm. My mother told how she stayed up at night and did not sleep because she was afraid that her three children would not wake up in the morning. We slept in sleeping bags. We had hats and mittens. I tell you, as my mother lay in bed staring at the ceiling at night praying to God, not once did she ask God for a house with a 4 inch window sill or 33% stone on the front of the house.

“What are your beliefs? Do your actions reflect these beliefs? That’s what I’m asking.

Lance Henning, President and Executive Director, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity: “We would really like us all to start working together on a regional scale and to see housing as infrastructure. We know that for a good regional economy, we must have good infrastructure and housing must be one of the elements that exists and is healthy for our region to continue to prosper. We really have to think about it so that everyone has access to this infrastructure.

Carrie Woerdeman, Director of Development, Kaeding Properties:
“My contribution is not a new idea, but it’s a very important thing that we’ve been talking about all day. And that is that we have to forge partnerships. We must work together. As developers, as employers, as city leaders, as nonprofits, we need to work together to find ways to break down barriers and overcome obstacles. I challenge everyone to step outside of ourselves, our own boxes and our own goals and try to reach these partners who all share the same end goals of more housing, more affordable housing and work together to solve this problem.