FHLBank Topeka's mission is to partner with our members to make a difference in communities throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Here are some examples of our partnerships in action.
St. Marys, Kansas
Affordable Housing Program
Two-thirds of the current population of the United States wasn’t even born when Walnut Hill was built. “Even though we are getting by with the current facility, Walnut Hill is showing its age,” said John Simecka, board member of the St. Marys Housing Authority and champion for their 2017 Affordable Housing grant submission. Just a few of the issues the complex faced include draftiness because of single-paned windows and possible foundation issues when a big rain flows through undersized guttering. “We saw the AHP as a tremendous opportunity to update our aging complex,” Simecka added.
Walnut Hill consists of two sections. Walnut Hill I, the target of most of the AHP funding, was built in the 1970s. Walnut Hill II was built in 1991. Residents of the 28-unit Walnut Hill I are elderly or disabled and have very low, low or moderate incomes.
To apply for the AHP grant, St Marys Housing Authority worked with FHLBank member St Marys State Bank. “The bank was so supportive of our application,” said Simecka. Dave Brunin, EVP of St. Marys State Bank, noted that most of the bank’s officers are long-time residents of the town of about 2,600.
“We believe in our community and are pleased to support this project to improve the quality of life for local seniors,” said Brunin.
This was the first successful AHP grant for both St. Marys State Bank and the Housing Authority. They are ready to get started this year with the improvements. “The AHP documents say that we need to have the project started by Oct. 1,” Simecka said. “I’m hoping we’ll have everything completed well in advance of that date.”
Another important benefit to the community is that it will help support local contractors. The Housing Authority plans to work with local talent to complete the renovations. They hope the result will be a complex that stands the test of time for future generations.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Community Development Program
In 1945 when the Hart Building was constructed, its neighborhood, Film Row, was home to offices for major Hollywood film studios like Paramount Pictures and MGM. It was one of 37 film districts across the country that helped get the word out to theatre owners about new films by hosting showings of the latest movies. By the 1960s, new technology and transportation options led to the demise of these film exchange areas.
“In the early 1980s, the Film Row neighborhood was blighted,” explained Chip Fudge, the developer of the Hart Building. “There were no street lights and many buildings were boarded up. We bought our first property in that area in 1994 seeing the potential.” The OKC Film Row has experienced a resurgence in recent years and is one of the last ones standing in the U.S. with nearly every building still intact. Much of this is due to the vision of Fudge’s company, Film Exchange Row, LLC.
Chip’s financial partner along the way has been NBC Oklahoma. “They agreed to finance some of my initial project and have been there for my commercial, real estate and family business ever since,” Chip said. “I won’t bank with anyone but a local banker and really appreciate my relationship with NBC Oklahoma.”
Even with their strong relationship with Chip, NBC needed to be competitive on rate to secure the Hart Building project. “We knew that with the size of this project, a ½% could make a big difference,” said Toni Nance, vice president of NBC Oklahoma. They had heard about Community Development Program advances from FHLBank Topeka and decided to find out if Chip’s project would qualify. “Although I know we could have kept our relationship with Chip, we couldn’t have secured this particular project had it not been for FHLBank. The CDP was the perfect fit,” said Toni.
Thanks to the affordable funding, Chip completely refurbished the inside of the building while keeping the art deco charm outside. The Hart Building is home to his company as well as a small café and KOSU, the National Public Radio station for Oklahoma State University. Chip’s projects have led the way in the Film Row neighborhood spurring economic growth and bringing some of that movie magic back to Oklahoma City.
Affordable Housing Program Grant
Gerald and Donna are two of eight adults with developmental disabilities that reside in Imagine! Santa Fe group home.
Completed in 2014 with the help of a $90,000 AHP grant through FHLBank Topeka member Commerce Bank, Santa Fe is one of four group homes built to accommodate adults with disabilities in Broomfield, Colo., since 2008.
In 2004, Gerald began using services offered by Imagine!, a community- centered organization that provides services for citizens with disabilities in Broomfield and Boulder counties in Colorado. Gerald has developmental disabilities requiring him to be in a wheelchair and communicate through a tablet.
Before 2008, it would have been impossible for Gerald to live on his own. But, with the help of Imagine!, Gerald and his wife, Donna, who he met through Imagine! are able to live independently in the Santa Fe home.
“It’s harder and harder for people with disabilities to find these kind of houses,” said Fred Hobbs, Imagine! public relations manager.
“And it’s harder and harder for organizations to provide services for people with developmental disabilities in a fiscally responsible way."
Located on the outskirts of Broomfield, the Santa Fe home was designed with larger hallways and bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs and staff.
For residents like Gerald and Donna, the location and amenities of the home has opened up a world of independence they have never known.
Affordable Housing Program Grant
Home to James Soby and other low-income residents with disabilities, the President and Ambassador buildings in downtown Lincoln, Neb., needed extensive renovations. The historical buildings were converted into low-income housing units in the early 90s and were managed by a partnership of three churches called the Interfaith Coalition. After 20 years, Interfaith and community partners Excel Development Group and Horizon Bank faced funding and relocation issues.
Brent Williams, president and CEO of Excel Development Group said, “If these buildings were not saved, the residents would have most likely ended up at the mission.”
Resident relocation is standard for many renovations, but a little more complex when the special needs of the residents range from language barriers to mobility issues. For James Soby, a resident of 20 years who is visually impaired, the temporary relocation threatened his daily activities. To aid in the transition, the property manager photographed his entire apartment including the contents of every drawer and cabinet. Every item was logged and placed as close to its original location as possible with input from James. This helped James to adapt quickly to his new surroundings when the renovations were complete. Great care was put into the relocation and renovation to provide safe, decent affordable housing for some of Lincoln’s most vulnerable citizens.
The President and Ambassador building rehab received a $400,000 FHLBank Topeka Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant in 2013 to fill the funding gap. “The project wouldn’t have happened without the AHP grant from FHLBank Topeka,” stated Paula Rhian, assistant vice president at Horizon Bank. The $8.1 million rehab took four years to complete. When the renovation was finished in 2016 the President and Ambassador buildings were awarded the 2016 Redevelopment Award from the Downtown Lincoln Association.
Affordable Housing Program Grant
Dora Guerrero’s leaky roof had controlled her life for many years.
“If we weren’t home and it started to get cloudy, we’d stop what we were doing to rush home to get our buckets in place,” said Guerrero. “We had leaks in every room and didn’t have the money to fix it.” Guerrero cares for her adult son, who is disabled, in the home she’s owned since 1985. Her resources are limited, and her roof wasn’t the only issue.
“Many of our windows were cracked. I covered them with plastic and blankets in the winter,” she explained. “We couldn’t afford to heat more than two rooms so were confined to a smaller space.”
Luckily, a friend told her about the Emporia Homeowner Repair Program, which is funded by a $100,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant through FHLBank member ESB Financial. Jeff Lynch, community development coordinator for the City of Emporia, administers the program. Twenty homeowners, like Guerrero, with incomes below 50% of the area median across Emporia benefit from the funding.
“We have almost completed the final project under the grant,” said Lynch. “Once the weather cooperates, we’ll complete a new roof for our 20th recipient.” Other repair projects have included projects such as replacing windows, furnaces or air conditioners, and repairing plumbing and electrical issues.
Many of the recipients are disabled or elderly. Each project is allocated $5,000. “Although this amount is usually sufficient, that isn’t the way life works sometimes,” said Lynch. “In those cases, we leverage local funds to fill the gap.”
In Guerrero’s case, she received a brand new roof and new windows. “I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am. I’m able to look out the window now, and don’t have to worry about my roof falling in.” she said. “The repairs are such a positive change for me and my son.”