Steve Patterson has the Floor

Each Month a PCHTF Board Member Shares their Commitment to Affordable Housing

Steve Patterson has the Floor

I’ve heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that what we remember from childhood we remember forever. One of my forever memories came from being raised in a Des Moines neighborhood at the corner of East 30th and University.  Right at the front door of the Iowa State Fair. 

We went to the Fair every day.  I rode my share of rides, ate more than my share of food, but in my mind’s eye what I remember with absolute clarity, are the beautiful girls who came from all over.  That forever memory is one that still makes me smile, as does the home where I was raised. Knowing a home and neighborhood can have the impact it does makes me even more committed to ensuring safe, stable and affordable housing to all who live in our shared communities.

While I didn’t know it at the time, we lived in a very modest home. My dad was a fireman and for many years my mother was a stay-at-home mom until she went to work in the school cafeteria.  Like many parents, they sacrificed for their children and I had the opportunity to attend college which set me on the path of business administration and a 30-year career in Banking.

My professional start (mid-1970s) was just shortly before the time Congress created The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operated, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. It was also intended to stop what was called “redlining,” a term coined in the 1960s which was essentially marking a red line on a map to delineate low-income areas and then discriminating against or treating those who lived in those areas differently.  It’s not often you’ll hear a business person call for more regulation or government guidance – but in this case, it was absolutely needed.

Housing is so fundamental to a person’s stability and quality of life. That’s why when my company, Meta Financial Group, was asked to make a contribution to the Polk County Housing Trust Fund we said Yes. That’s also why when Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell asked if I would accept an appointment to the PCHTF Board, without hesitation I said Yes.

While I’ve only been on the Board a year, it is evident our challenges in this area are significant and growing – aging neighborhoods, incomes that can’t cover the cost of housing, and waiting lists for affordable housing programs. 

Thankfully our size makes the challenge manageable and having a “point” such as the PCHTF ensures focus, coordination and the best possible collective impact. In my mind, those good news items rank right up there with growing up on the doorstep of the Iowa State Fair at East 30th and University.