Lance Henning has the Floor

Each Month a PCHTF Board Member shares their commitment to Affordable Housing

Lance Henning has the Floor

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. I must confess at age 22 I joined the Peace Corps purely for the adventure of it – and it changed my life.   I began my two years of service in Central America where something happened to me.

The experience of serving others caused a transformation. Maybe I simply needed to “grow up” or possibly God was guiding me on a path yet for me to see, either way, being engaged with people who had to focus all their efforts on the very basics – shelter, food and safe water – every hour of every day,  I saw a way of life that humbled, challenged and inspired me.

I knew from my time in the Peace Corps that I wanted to help people in a tangible way.  When God opened the door six years later for a position to work with people needing housing with Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City, and even the lower salary, and fact that I had a family with two young children could not dissuade me from doing what I knew I was meant to do.  I had seen firsthand the tangible difference safe, decent, affordable housing could make for those in need and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

That is why it is important for me and an honor to be able to serve on the Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s Board, an organization that understands the importance of affordable housing, continues to address issues around access to affordable housing, and wants to see the obstacles removed that keep too many of our fellow residents from a decent home

As someone that works with affordable housing daily, I am a part of many conversations on “What is affordable housing?”  Sometimes the conversations are fully supportive of affordable housing, others are full of apprehension, and too often the conversation includes people that feel affordable housing is not an important community issue.  Here are a few items to help describe affordable housing and what it means in the Greater Des Moines community. 

Affordable housing:

-   Serves as an asset to every neighborhood and to Polk County as a whole.  It helps ensure that Polk County continues to be home to people of many different ages, incomes and backgrounds.

-   Helps build healthy neighborhoods.

-   Benefits the economy of Polk County.  When housing costs are minimized, low and moderate income families have more money to spend on other items including education and youth-activities that will lead to a better life for their children.

-   Creates jobs in construction, building management and other industries.

-   Means more than just the size of the rent or mortgage payment.  A home is more affordable when it uses less energy, when it is less expensive to build and operate, and when taxes are reasonable.

-   Reaches hard-working individuals and families to be a critical ingredient in maintaining and strengthening the outstanding quality of life in the Greater Des Moines area.

I hope you will join us in a different kind of “adventure” to create a place where every person has access to safe, stable and affordable housing.  As Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”