Stephanie Reynolds Has the Floor
Thanks, Stephanie for your service
I raise my non-fat, vanilla latte in a New Year’s toast to the many providers, community leaders, corporations and volunteers who tirelessly work to provide safe, stable and affordable housing in Polk County. As I finish my six years of Board Member service (the maximum allowed) I reflect on the work the Housing Trust Fund makes possible and share some personal insights I hope help others see the need for, and impact of our work.
While I didn’t know it at the time, my introduction to the challenges of affordable housing started when I was a child. Des Moines is my hometown and I was surrounded by a large extended family. In fact, if you visit my office you will see a picture that includes a burgeoning cast of relatives that include approximately 60 of my dad’s cousins. Very few of my relatives were able to afford houses and had to rent homes and apartments. Those who couldn’t afford rent “doubled up” – living with others while they earned enough to have a place of their own.
I was fortunate that my family had a home and I had a stable home life and the benefit of an education that enabled me to go to college earning a Bachelor of Arts from Grand View College and a Master of Public Administration from Drake University. My passion was, and continues to be helping others. That’s why against the wishes of my mother, who was a parole officer, I chose to work in Human Services. She was of course proud and supportive, but wanted to spare me the heartache that comes with work that can be as difficult as it is rewarding.
One of the jobs I had was in the area of labor relations and human resource functions for the state of Iowa. Even with a good salary, it’s amazing how far $35,000-$40,000 won’t go when it comes to trying to provide for a family and pay for a home. That workforce reality, coupled with a growing interest in the impact aging housing stock was having on communities and area employees led me in part to serve on the PCHTF Board.
I have been so impressed with and proud of how far the Housing Trust Fund and our providers are able to stretch and leverage each and every dollar we receive. I celebrate the many accomplishments and wish everyone continued persistence and passion to address growing challenges. Some of those include shrinking pools of funding at a time when the need is growing exponentially; area suburbs who are or will be experiencing the challenges of an aging housing stock; and a middle-class that is being squeezed out of the housing market because they have too much money to qualify for assistance but not enough money to live near their jobs or chosen schools.
I am confident the Housing Trust Fund leadership, staff, area providers and community leaders will continue to do everything possible to provide safe, stable and affordable housing. Thank you for your work and thank you to those who are able to provide the financial resources that make the work possible.