Linda Westergaard has the Floor

Each month a PCHTF Board Member shares their commitment to affordable housing

Linda Westergaard has the Floor

It’s not often talked about, but I’ll share with you some insight from learning the values, dreams and personal circumstances of people in this community. My observations come from being a Realtor in the Des Moines area for 14 years and a PCHTF board member for six months. Both have been eye opening.

My “sweet spot,” so to speak, are properties in the City of Des Moines with a price range of $70,000 - $200,000.  One observation is an interesting and troubling trend that includes two-income families who are just one paycheck, illness or car repair away from not being able to pay their rent or mortgage.  An additional  observation is that someone making relatively good money ($30,000+) is going to be hard-pressed to find safe, stable and affordable housing that isn’t more than 30% of their wages – a ratio often used by lenders. Low-income is no longer about being unemployed or even under-employed.  Having a job does not equal the ability to afford housing.

I admit to being a bit biased, but I can’t imagine any other issue that is more fundamental to the health and well-being of a family, a community and a nation. Housing is at the heart of it all. That is one of the reasons I was eager to join the Polk County Housing Trust Fund Board.  I am one of the newest board members and have spent the first six months listening, learning and looking to positively effectuate a future that I know will be challenging. 

Even before I had an up-close-and-personal view of the world of real-estate, like many parents I worked hard to make my children aware of how very fortunate we were to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Additionally my two daughters, now ages 32 and 29, grew up hearing their mother tell them that it is important to give back to our community.  My husband, who also serves on the Neighborhood Revitalization Board for the City of Des Moines, joins me in leading by example. Housing is our passion. He is a licensed Realtor as is one of my daughters and our son-in-law.

It is both our vocation and avocation. You can’t help but become emotionally engaged and want to make things better when you see firsthand the transformation of a neighborhood when dilapidated housing is torn down and replaced with new construction, or struggling homeowners receive assistance for repairs, clean up and winterization, or when a family is able to afford a home and it is a dream realized. I ask you to take a minute to peruse www.pchtf.org, read about the collective impact of its strategic leadership, see the lives touched and situations improved thanks to area partner organizations we fund and join me in believing in the need for and impact when we make safe, stable and affordable housing a priority in Polk County.

Thank you.