Grants for Good: Improving the Community with the Competitive Affordable Housing Program

last updated on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 in Affordable Housing

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Dubuque Bank & Trust received its state charter in April 1934. With nine offices in Dubuque, East Dubuque, Epworth, Farley, Holy Cross, Keokuk and Carthage, IL, Dubuque Bank & Trust serves thousands of customers in the Tri-State area. Dubuque Bank & Trust is one of Iowa's 10 largest banking institutions.


Step by Step, an advocacy agency incorporated in 2005, was seeking assistance for funding critical housing for people with disabilities in downtown Dubuque. Step by Step turned to Dubuque Bank & Trust for help in securing funding to make the project a reality.

The housing development, known as 759 Bluff Street, would allow persons with disabilities to live in an ideal location with all the accommodations to make life at home more enjoyable. According to Wayne Breckon of Dubuque Bank & Trust, “The goal was to have a place where people with disabilities could live independently, through the use of universal design and forward-thinking amenities.”


Dubuque Bank & Trust sponsored Step by Step's application to the FHLB Des Moines Competitive Affordable Housing Program (AHP). Dubuque Bank & Trust was able to help Step by Step secure a $149,750 AHP grant for the 759 Bluff Street project.

In addition to the AHP grant, the project received assistance from a variety of other sources, including federal historic tax credits, state and city funding, HUD money and private donations, as well as a $650,000 construction loan from Dubuque Bank & Trust. In total, the project cost $1.2 million.

The initial grant money from FHLB Des Moines helped set the wheels in motion for reaching the target goal. “We needed to get the bucket full,” said Breckon. “With FHLB Des Moines being behind the project and one of the first financial commitments, it showed that Dubuque Bank & Trust did their due diligence.”

Dubuque Bank & Trust also participated in the AHP pre-application process, where project sponsors can submit applications in advance to receive feedback from FHLB Des Moines. “They laid everything out for us in great detail, we got helpful input on the application so we knew the final submission had a high probability of acceptance,” Breckon explained.


Since its completion in 2008, 759 Bluff Street has had a positive impact on the community, and there are no bigger fans than its residents. According to Breckon, “It turned out beautiful. They love it, they absolutely love it. There's been very little turnover, and those who have left have done so only to be closer to their families. Residents like the feel of a rehabilitation project.”

The 1890's brownstone has been fully modified to provide full accessibility for mobility-impaired residents. This includes a central elevator, roll-in showers and a state-of-the-art communal kitchen. Individual units have been beautifully restored and preserved with fireplaces, original wood floors and ornate woodwork. All the details and design considerations contribute to a sense of "home" while being fully accessible and located centrally in the downtown. According to Breckon, “The home is designed in such a way that it exceeds ADA requirements.”

What's Next

For Step by Step, the residence at 759 Bluff Street is the first of what is hoped will be other similar projects to provide accessible housing, hope and opportunity for persons with disabilities.

For More Information

Affordable Housing Program


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  2. Community Investment Programs
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