By Dan Russo
MAQUOKETA — Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque will host a dedication of Heartland East, an affordable housing facility it recently purchased, on Oct. 2 at 10:30 a.m. in Maquoketa.
The event will include tours before and after the ceremony on the two-acre site. The complex has 28 apartments, with 17 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom units. Two of the units will be fully wheelchair accessible.
Matthew Roddy, housing director for Catholic Charities, explained that the agency obtained the property from Fidelity Bank, which worked with the organization over three years to craft a deal that preserved affordable housing. With the other properties the agency owns being in urban environments of the archdiocese, Heartland East is the first Catholic Charities housing facility in what is considered a rural area, according to Roddy.
Residents pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and utilities with rental assistance making up the difference. The funds are provided by an affordable housing program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“I think it’s the small-town atmosphere that can be a very positive support for families, even coming from the outside,” said Roddy. “What I’ve found with Maquoketa as well is there’s a lot of available social services, and they’re eager to partner with us and help our residents.
Catholic Charities does not provide any social services at Heartland East. We provide the housing, but we partner with other agencies to provide the social services.”
Catholic Charities’ acquisition of the buildings came with the extension of the USDA rental assistance contract for another 30 years. Heartland East received a $277,000 grant and reserve funding needed for repairs and improvements, including $170,000 from the Iowa Housing Trust Fund.
Catholic Charities is making numerous improvements to the property with the funds. These will include new through-the-wall heating and cooling systems, new flooring in many units, some new kitchens, baths, light fixtures and improvements to common areas.
Roddy believes it is beneficial that the property, built in 1974 through a USDA program, is going to be preserved as affordable housing units. He explained that Iowa is now facing an affordable housing crunch.
“Over a five-year period (we have lost) 10 percent of the permanent affordable housing portfolio,” Roddy said. “Now there are some new projects getting done in other ways, but that’s a key point … Efforts need to be maximized to preserve these units.”
Catholic Charities operates its housing based on Catholic social teaching with the simple model of providing “beauty and order” for the community. A site manager that works for the agency manages the facility day to day. The dedication will bring together current residents, city officials and local companies that have worked on the renovations, among others.
Heartland East is accepting applications now. For more information, contact Catholic Charities housing answering service at 1-877-235-1007. Coverage of the dedication will be in a future issue of The Witness and at TheWitnessOnline.org.
Some of the buildings comprising the 28 apartments of Heartland East, an affordable housing development in Maquoketa, are shown above. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque recently purchased the facilities. The agency has engaged contractors to perform major renovations. There will be a dedication ceremony on Oct. 2. As part of its mission, Catholic Charities owns and operates 209 units of permanent affordable housing in the archdiocese. The first of these facilities were acquired in 1973. (Contributed photo)