The 712 Initiative and Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs are excited to announce that we formed a partnership to take action on stabilizing and revitalizing housing in the community.

“These organizations are natural partners. Both focus on finding ways to solve tough issues affecting our community; 712 through a holistic vision of placemaking and community development, and Habitat’s mission of addressing affordable housing and ending the cycle of poverty.”

– Blake Johnson, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs

By partnering, our two organizations are able to reduce costs and create efficiencies in delivery of their respective programs, including 712’s Housing Revitalization Program, Habitat’s home builds, and the shared Rock the Block program.

“The organizations have been cohabiting together in the same building since 2016. We’ve now found a way we can serve the Council Bluffs community better by sharing staff talent in order for us to stabilize efforts and do more to address blighted housing conditions and increased homeownership.”

– Sheryl Garst, CEO of The 712 Initiative.

The shared staff includes 712’s Neighborhood Coordinator, Turner Morgan, Habitat’s Program Manager, Kim Smith, and 712’s Construction Project Manager, Tammie Dodge. By sharing these key positions there will be better program overlap and improved efficiencies for both nonprofits.

Both organizations are working to create safe and affordable housing within our community.

The community has a housing shortage, which is a challenge for workforce. Council Bluff’s population grew by only 1% between 2010-2019, and the condition of existing units is a concern.

A 2019 housing conditions survey, done by our nonprofit, identified 714 (1-2 unit) residential properties that are considered to be in poor or deteriorated condition throughout Council Bluffs. This means that the property has a major deficiency, significant surface wear is noticeable, and major maintenance is needed.

Johnson explained, “The work we do is difficult, there are no easy answers to solving the crisis of affordable housing. The mission is bigger than any one group or organization. We feel the best way forward is working together, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

“We ultimately hope this start will give us continued capacity to serve the community’s needs for decades to come,” added Garst.

This partnership will help see 7 owner-occupied homes added to Council Bluffs each year.

We cannot wait to deliver a safe environment for families that have been on a wait list for far too long and a product that is desperately needed in this market. 


Link to Nonpareil Article