Coon Rapids foundation wants to boost senior housing

The Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation wants to give a boost to senior housing in the city.

In what form that will take has not been determined, but at its annual meeting in December, the foundation board of directors directed staff to bring forward new program funding or investment opportunities for senior housing.

According to Cheryl Bennett, city housing and zoning coordinator, up to $1 million could be made available for senior housing projects in Coon Rapids.

At the foundation board annual meeting, President Donna Naeve asked board members to give their ideas to Bennett, who plans to present information to the board sometime in the first quarter of this year for further discussion on the direction the board wants to take, she said.

Naeve said at the meeting that this would be a multi-stage process and she would not expect a full program to be developed and presented until further discussion and consideration takes place.

Discussion at the board’s annual meeting focused on the need to have a program to help seniors move from their current homes in Coon Rapids into senior housing in the city, freeing up housing stock for younger families.

But board members expressed concern that there is not enough specific housing for independent seniors in the city who do not need assisted living or long-term care facilities, Bennett said.

And the board wants to encourage seniors now living in Coon Rapids to remain in the community as well as provide housing that would bring seniors from other communities into the city.

Board members said some existing senior housing in Coon Rapids is too expensive, while some others are older or lack amenities, according to foundation board minutes.

The board is not looking to have Section 8 rent subsidy or low rent units, but an option with amenities that would be enticing enough for seniors to sell their homes and move into a senior development, the minutes state.

Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe, a member of the foundation board, said he has spoken with many seniors currently in single-family homes that are ready for high-rise senior living.

And he said the available land in Port Riverwalk on Coon Rapids Boulevard could provide an area for all senior living needs – senior housing, assisted living and nursing home facilities.

While the foundation board is not interested in becoming a senior housing developer itself, one option that she is researching is the possibility of the foundation providing gap financing for proposed senior housing projects in the city to enable them to move forward, according to Bennett.

“There is a definite intent on the part of the board to do something to encourage senior housing in the community,” Bennett said.

There are a number of units in the city, like detached association townhomes, that offer the type of amenities that seniors would be looking for, but they are not specifically geared for seniors, she said.

The mortgage assistance foundation was formed in 1979 as part of a Coon Rapids City Council’s project to sell low interest housing bonds to boost housing construction at a time of high interest rates.

The $45 million housing revenue bond issue was paid off in March 2003 using mortgage payments from homeowners who benefited from the bond issue.

Money that has built up in the foundation coffers from mortgage payments over the years has been earmarked by the foundation board for housing-related purposes in Coon Rapids.

Under board policy, project funding guidelines include housing structure preservation, housing value enhancements, housing accessibility improvements and pilot housing projects.

At this time, the foundation funds four long-standing programs.

• Home improvement incentive program – incentives to make repairs or value-added improvements to single-family houses as well as common interest community (CIC) properties.

• Home rehabilitation assistance program, which provides assistance to make repairs or improvement to correct defects or deficiencies in single-family and CIC properties.

• Two-family home rehabilitation program, which offers incentives for exterior maintenance and rehabilitation projects on both units of duplexes.

• Emergency home repair program – emergency repairs to single-family and CIC properties when other resources are not available to the homeowner.

In April 2010, the foundation launched another project, the regenerations down payment assistance loan program, for which it allocated $300,000 which can be used in conjunction with an FHA 203(k) mortgage to purchase and renovate a single-family detached property in the city with a least $10,000 in rehabilitation or renovation work completed within six months of closing.

The down payment assistance maximum is $6,000 and the money is provided in the form of a second mortgage.

No payments are required and no interest is tacked on unless the loan is repaid within the first three years after closing.

The loan balance is reduced proportionately between years four through 10 and completely forgiven after 10 years.

The program has no income limits on borrowers, is not restricted to first-time home buyers and is not limited to foreclosed properties.

Officers of the foundation board are Naeve, a longtime member and past chairperson of the Coon Rapids Planning Commission, as president; Jim Stanton, owner of Coon-Rapids-based Shamrock Development, as vice president; Lyle Haney, retired city finance director, as treasurer; and Scott Schulte, Anoka County commissioner and former Coon Rapids City Councilmember, as secretary.

Other board members are Howe and Coon Rapids resident Brad Crandall.

At the board’s December meeting, Crandall, Howe and Naeve were re-elected to three-year terms.

Peter Bodley is at
peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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