The Quad Cities Housing Council (QCHC) will receive a record-breaking $350,000 Transformation Grant from the Quad Cities Community Foundation to support affordable housing solutions in the region.
The three-year grant, announced Monday, Dec. 6, marks the largest Transformation Grant in the community foundation’s 57-year history. It will help QCHC build its internal housing capacity as well as focus on implementing projects that are part of its Silos to Solutions Affordable Housing Vision for 2030, according to a news release.
QCHC coordinates affordable housing activities and programs with the Quad-Cities region’s nonprofit housing services, providers and developers.
“We’ve had the privilege of learning about the affordable housing crisis by engaging at the table with the Quad Cities Housing Council,” said Kelly Thompson, the Community Foundation’s vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives and a member of the task force that developed QCHC’s Affordable Housing Vision. “Thanks to the support of generous donors across our community, we’re proud to be part of the council’s work — and to help it raise the bar for what it can do going forward.”
Randy Moore, the foundation’s interim president and CEO, added “A challenge as central as this requires significant and sustained support, and we’re confident that making just such an investment in the Quad Cities Housing Council will mean a more prosperous and equitable community for everyone who calls the Quad Cities home.”
The QCHC is a resource development arm of the Quad Cities Housing Cluster, a 60-member coalition of nonprofit and for-profit entities dedicated to collaboratively addressing the overall housing needs and opportunities in the region.
“Right now, we have a golden opportunity to seize,” said QCHC Director Leslie Kilgannon.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t create the affordable housing crisis in the Quad Cities, she said, but it did exacerbate the problem and bring widespread awareness to it. As a result, there is renewed interest by governments, philanthropists and communities to look beyond the immediate emergency response to the pandemic and consider long-term recovery and infrastructure.
“As we see our society coming to an acknowledgment that before the pandemic things weren’t working for everybody, we need to forge a new path,” Ms. Kilgannon said. “At the council, we have the vision, we have capable entities with proven track records, and now we have this major investment.”
QCHC’s Affordable Housing Vision outlines six strategies for addressing problems including: producing more affordable units, preserving existing units, protecting tenants’ rights, providing services that support housing stability, raising local housing funds and growing community partnerships around the issue.
“The problem of affordable housing can seem so overwhelming that some people want to throw up their hands and walk away,” Ms. Kilgannon said. “But with our vision and these six strategies, we’re saying that there actually are things we can do to move the needle not just a little bit but a lot. It’s a tall order, but we have tangible strategies we can implement.”
Initially, QCHC will work to increase internal capacity, including hiring additional staff for administrative support and fostering a stronger presence on the Illinois side of the river. A streamlined grants management system, a data collection system, and communications support will allow Ms. Kilgannon to spend more time raising additional funding and conducting advocacy work on local housing policy, she said.
Priorities for years two and three of the grant include raising and distributing additional funds, leading policy work to encourage or require more affordable units in new multi-family developments, acquiring and rehabilitating properties as affordable rentals, and establishing a tenant alliance, among other projects.
“The Community Foundation has been a long standing supporter of our efforts,” said Ms. Kilgannon. “They’ve been a vociferous advocate for greater investment in affordable housing. Now, they’re taking a leadership role, and with their support, we’ll be able to engage, excite, and motivate other community stakeholders. This grant is transformational in that it sends a message out to the rest of the community that this is a vision worth investing in.”
The QCHC grant is part of the Community Foundation’s commitment to finding long-term solutions to the community’s affordable housing shortage. Its first Transformation Grant, awarded in 2015, went to QCHC. Last year, the foundation awarded a Transformation Grant to Humility Homes and Services to support long-term solutions for community members experiencing homelessness and to end the need for Humility’s emergency winter shelter.
Other past Transformation Grants recipients include: United Way Women United Born Learning Initiative, Family Resources’ Comprehensive Care Coordination Services Program, Grow Quad Cities for the Q2030 Regional Action Plan, Robert Young Center, Child Abuse Council, Vera French Mental Health Center, Mercado on Fifth, and the East Moline and United Township School Districts.