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.
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.”