116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Community leaders previously involved in the Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities Task Force have organized a series of meetings to engage the larger community on important issues.
The group convened its first discussion - on public safety and community policing - in June, and hosts its second 'Community Conversation,” this one focused on affordable housing, at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 15, at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE.
'We made a commitment early on during the work of the SET Task Force that we would stay engaged with the community and not let the report collect dust on a shelf,” said Dale Todd, a local developer and community leader who served on the task force. 'We know how important affordable housing is to the people of Cedar Rapids, and we know that there are a lot of positive benefits to getting this right.”
Todd, who served as chairman of the task force's Housing Subcommittee, will moderate the July 15 conversation.
Panelists include Jeff Capps, executive director of Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity; Laura O'Leary, president of Landlords of Linn County; Lisa Gavin, staff attorney at Iowa Legal Aid; Phoebe Trepp, executive director of Willis Dady Homeless Services; Jennifer Pratt, director of community development for the city of Cedar Rapids; and Destiny Cannon, a Cedar Rapids resident.
Following the moderated discussion, guests and community members will have the opportunity to ask questions.
'We know that in many instances, affordable housing can be the foundation of upward mobility,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who served as co-chairman of the SET Task Force. 'Most employers won't hire a person who cannot provide proof of a stable living situation and most landlords won't rent to a person who cannot provide proof of a stable income.”
The group is planning two more community conversations - one to be held Saturday, Aug. 12, at the library that is likely to focus on economic opportunities, and one larger event where community stakeholders will be invited to determine which SET Task Force recommendations they can help bring to fruition.
'If we aren't helping the most vulnerable among us find safe, affordable housing, then we're failing at a pretty basic obligation,” said Mary Wilcynski, visiting professor at Coe College, who served as co-chairwoman of the task force. 'We're hoping this conversation can give us more insight into how we can improve our affordable housing offerings and remove any barriers to housing that might exist.”
The event is free to the public.