Senator Mike Crapo Brings Secretary Ben Carson to Idaho for Housing Discussion and Tour


On Aug. 12, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, visited Idaho to learn about housing affordability. Seen here (L-R) Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, Dr. Carson, and U.S. Congressman Russ Fulcher.

Last week, a small delegation of lawmakers, business and community leaders gathered in Idaho to discuss housing hurdles facing Idaho residents.

Members of your Association’s Advocacy team participated in the delegation’s discussions, thanks to an invitation extended by Senator Mike Crapo’s State Director, Bob Sonnichsen, who attended the NWCUA’s Idaho Governmental Affairs Committee meeting in July.

Troy Stang, NWCUA President and CEO, and Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Idaho, joined the delegation, which included Crapo (R-ID), U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, Idaho Congressman, Russ Fulcher (R-ID) and Idaho State Senator, Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise-19).

The Boise real estate market has been a hotbed of activity over the past several years, which has resulted in limited inventory and increased housing prices, putting pressure on working families that are trying to make ends meet while also managing long-term, stable housing.

“Everyone agrees we must try to make more affordable housing available,” said Crapo. “Here in Idaho, home prices are on the rise and demand is high. We all want to share in the American dream of having our own place to live. That means we must diversify our approach and find new, innovative ways to expand affordable housing revenues.” 

One of those innovators is indieDwell, a module home manufacturer in Caldwell. The delegation got a first-hand look at indieDwell’s modern housing products currently in design. In April, members of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation’s Board of Directors visited indieDwell to learn about its innovative housing solutions.

indieDwell creates module homes made from used storage containers. The homes are steel-framed, which reduces construction time, cost, and waste, while increasing quality. The company’s homes do not depreciate like manufactured homes, can be shipped anywhere, and are helping to boost economic development by providing new housing options. indieDwell was recently featured in an exhibit on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the Innovative Housing Showcase in June.

“This is an example of the kind of innovative housing production that can alleviate our affordable housing needs nationwide,” Carson tweeted during his visit.  

The NWCUA participants had the opportunity to discuss the secondary marketplace for loans as well as lending options for some of the innovative and historic non-traditional housing products that could ease the burden on pricing and availability in many communities.  To make an impact in many of these communities, some of the innovative housing products currently being considered as an option to curb housing pressures will require lending certainty from the secondary loan markets. This concept was discussed amongst the members of the delegation.   

The delegation also visited a senior housing facility near downtown Boise and received a briefing about another Boise-area housing project for homeless veterans, scheduled for completion next year. During the visit, Carson outlined his vision for future HUD programs working to manage affordable housing and the high priority placed on public-private partnerships to create new housing options. He discussed the need to evaluate current programs to ensure there were incentives in place to help people out of poverty.  

“The things that we do, we have to do them all in a holistic manner, so that we can actually get the whole program running more smoothly,” Carson said. 

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation also is playing a large part in building relationships between credit unions and community partners in order to address workforce housingThe NWCUA Advocacy team had the opportunity to share some of the Foundation’s priorities with Carson and Crapo during their visit.  

“Credit unions are doing amazing things in the workforce housing space throughout the Northwest,” said Foundation Executive Director, Sharee Adkins. “We were so pleased to have the opportunity to share our credit unions’ work with the delegation.” 

Credit unions are uniquely positioned to offer products and services that are helping Northwest residents afford to buy or rent homes. The Foundation is focused on a number of strategies, including supporting project development, providing project implementation, funds, fostering community collaboration, leveraging credit union partnerships, identifying resources, and promoting targeted approaches to solving the housing problem.  

Recently the Foundation opened a new round of project and planning grants that will help credit unions explore workforce housing challenges in their communities, build partnerships, and launch products and services for their members. NWCUA member credit unions are encouraged to apply 

Credit unions interested in the grants, but would first like feedback on their plans and projects, should submit their information by Sept. 13. The Foundation will respond to all inquiries. Final grant applications are due bOct.  25.

Posted in Advocacy News.