FORT MADISON – The local chapter of 2x4s For Hope has expanded its property management portfolio from tiny homes to regular-sized apartments.
The Iowa 2x4s for Hope Fort Madison Chapter is now the owner of 11 apartments the county used to own and use for low-income housing.
Lester Kistner is director of the local 2x4s for Hope Chapter and said the acquisition, which was made by a possible through a donation of the property to the 501c3 organization, will help expand what can be done for veteran housing in Lee County.
Kistner was on hand at Monday’s regular Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting and was pleased with the unanimous decision to donate the properties to the organization.
“We’re going to go in and refurbish them and take veterans in the county now on fixed incomes and paying high rent and struggling, we’ll take what their income is and base their rent on that,” Kistner said. “This will give us some passive income to continue us helping do what we do on the tiny home end.”
Kistner said half the rent income would go to Tiny Homes programs and the other half will go to helping maintain the apartment buildings. There are three current residents in the apartments and Kistner said as long as they abide by new ownership rules, they would be allowed to stay, but the other units available will go to veterans in the area.
He said it will take about $75,000 to renovate the bathrooms in the units and make them all ADA compliant.
"None of them are gut jobs, thankfully. The biggest thing we have to do is renovate all the bathrooms. All of them have tub showers and they are not ADA compliant,” Kistner said.
The three buildings are all on the same block just north of the former Sheaffer Pen building.
He said one of the apartments will be held for transitional housing. That unit would be available for veteran services to access for temporary housing of a veteran.
The group is working with other local advocacy groups, including the Salvation Army and service organizations to collaborate on veteran housing support.
“That’s the key. I’m working try to get a coalition with all these service organizations in southeast Iowa. If we can all partner together, we can do so much more for veterans than we can do apart,” he said.
“We see this as an opportunity to expand what we’re going to be able to do and help more veterans. This is really cool.”
Kistner said the county has other properties and he wants to see how this works as an organization and, if this works well, they could be looking at those properties, as well.
He said this is the first 2x4s for Hope chapter to take on additional property ownership as a revenue stream.
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