Low-income housing park to be torn down

Virginia Zantow

As Ames changes and grows, some of the city’s residents face more difficult housing situations than most students encounter.

Vic Moss, director of the Emergency Residence Project, 225 S. Kellogg Ave., said he thinks there is a growing problem in the country with cities not providing adequate housing options for low-income families, and that Ames should make a concerted effort to ensure everyone working in the community has a place to live.

One event Moss said concerns him is the loss of the Willow Creek mobile home park, 516 North Dakota Ave., which is soon to be demolished.

Residents of Willow Creek were given approximately two-and-a-half months notice before they had to move out of their homes, with a deadline of Aug. 1.

Moss said the establishment was among the cheapest in town, even if it was an older court and “not a very desirable place to live.”

The problem, Moss said, with getting rid of establishments such as Willow Creek, is that families can be forced out of the community because the number of housing options available to them has been greatly decreased.

“We just have to recognize that people need a place to live,” Moss said. “It’s just a basic need.”

Moss said in order for Ames – or any community – to ensure that this is a reality, every decision should be made in light of the goal of providing everyone with shelter.

Sterling Clink, owner of Willow Creek, recently sold the aging court to a developer, and he said every family affected by the move has actually improved their situation.

“For the most part, it was a good move for everybody,” Clink said.

Since many of the homes were old, Clink said many residents couldn’t afford necessary improvements, and many people moved into newer homes.

He said he made sure every resident was placed in an adequate housing situation after the move.

“We followed each and every one [of the Willow Creek residents],” Clink said.

“There were one or two that had a little problem finding housing, but for the most part it was a darn good thing.”

Clink said that while he does think there is a problem with low-income housing in Ames, as well as elsewhere in the country, he places the blame on city ordinances as well as city taxes, which he said are too high.

While mobile homes can be upgraded, Clink said, the city will not allow any expansion of the property, which, he said, would allow such things as installing storage buildings or larger trailers.

Elizabeth Foust, who lived in Willow Creek before relocating to the city of Conrad, said while she was happy with her new home, she felt Clink treated her and her neighbors extremely well. However, she does not believe Ames has adequate housing for low-income families.

“It costs so much to live in Ames,” Foust said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Vanessa Baker-Latimer, housing coordinator for the city of Ames, said she felt Ames does an adequate job of offering housing to low- and moderate-income families, in addition to providing services that help with utilities payments, deposits and first month’s rent.

One of the options available to Ames’ low-income families, Baker-Latimer said, is the Section 8 Rental Voucher Program, which is available to the city through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With these vouchers, Baker-Latimer said, low-income families may use up to 40 percent of their income toward rent in a place participating in the voucher program, and the government will pay the difference.

“I think Ames, as a community, does a good job,” Baker-Latimer said.