Community Spotlight


FHLBank Topeka's mission is to partner with our members to make a difference in communities throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Here are some examples of our partnerships in action.

Independence, Kansas

Affordable Housing Program

Just because housing is affordable doesn’t mean it has to be unattractive. Washington Historic Residences dispels this myth. With its stark-white, modern exterior, the building stands out on an idyllic street in the small community of Independence, Kansas.

Cohen-Esrey Development Group, LLC, and PreservingUS, Inc., worked together to renovate the 1940s-era Washington School into a senior living community. “In rural areas, we often see schools going through consolidation,” explained Tim Quigley, development director for Cohen-Esrey.

“The school had sentimental value. After it closed in 2011, the community wanted to see the building used and embraced the idea of making it into housing.”

Washington Historic Residences includes 23 one- to two-bedroom units, 14 of which are targeted to seniors with incomes below 50% of the area median. It’s the third affordable housing development in Independence in recent years. In each instance, the project was met with high demand.

Once construction began, local seniors were clamoring to find out more. “We received many calls once the sign went up,” said Angela Morehead, executive director of PreservingUS, Inc. “We just had the official ribbon-cutting and we are nearly full.”

Besides the beautiful architecture, supportive services also make the community attractive to residents. PreservingUS customizes the services to what each community needs. In Independence, medical care is at the top of the list. With the local hospital closing a few years ago, people in Independence had to travel to neighboring communities to see a doctor.

Morehead’s organization is working on setting up a satellite wellness center in Washington Residences. They also expect to offer organized gatherings to build camaraderie among the residents, as well as provide transportation assistance for groceries and other doctor’s visits.

Paying for a community project like this isn’t easy. The project qualified for the National Register for Historic Places and as a result was eligible for both federal and state historic tax credits. After securing low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), there was still a gap.

They filled the majority of the gap with a $301,697 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from FHLBank Topeka. Every AHP project must be sponsored by an FHLBank member bank. In this case, BOK Financial acted as the construction lender and AHP sponsor. “BOK Financial is proud to be a part of the redevelopment of Washington School,” said Lisa Albers, Senior Vice President, Community Development for BOK Financial. “Washington Historic Residences will provide much needed quality affordable housing to the area while also preserving a building that means so much to the local community of Independence, Kansas.”

“The AHP grant was the final piece of the puzzle,” said Quigley. “It was integral for us to move forward with bringing this housing option to Independence.”




Omaha, Nebraska

Affordable Housing Program

In 2008, there were no residential options in Omaha for a pregnant woman who was dealing with addiction. Heartland Family Service (HFS) wanted to change that.

“Other programs wouldn’t allow mothers to keep their young children with them during treatment,” said John Jeanetta, president and CEO of HFS. “Research shows that being separated from their children makes it much less likely that a mother’s treatment will be successful.”

HFS launched Nebraska Family Works, a program that helps women with addiction and mental health issues, while allowing them a safe place to recover with their children in tow. The program gives preference to pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of 7 years old. 

HFS secured a federal grant but had difficulty finding a place that met licensing requirements and was also in a neighborhood open to having a program that treats people with addiction. At first, HFS rented a floor in an existing apartment building that allowed them to serve 10 families. “We weren’t able to control the cleanliness of the units on the floors above and below us,” explained Jeanetta. This resulted in a bed bug infestation. HFS wanted better conditions for its clients, so it began the process of looking for a new facility.

They found a location in North Omaha that was not only an upgrade in the condition of the facility, but also in the size. “It was originally a luxury apartment complex from the 1960s,” said Jeanetta. “Another nonprofit had seen the potential and gutted the property.”

With a viable location in mind, the next obstacle was funding the multimillion-dollar rehab. HFS had support from the State of Nebraska through various programs, as well as its bank, American National Bank in Omaha. 

Through American National, they successfully applied for a $750,000 Affordable Housing Program grant from FHLBank Topeka in 2014. “Having the AHP grant made it more attractive for our private donors to contribute since we could show we had other dollars secured,” said Jeanetta. 

“American National Bank is incredibly fortunate to continue our long-time partnership with Heartland Family Service on this project,” said Brian Andersen, Senior Vice President at American National Bank. Andersen especially appreciated the rewarding nature of such work saying, “This was the chance to help a leading local organization deliver a truly valuable asset to the community. It will be exciting to hear about the women and children impacted by their work.”


The Nebraska Family Works facility opened in 2016 and includes eight residential units to house 16 families. The added space also allowed for 16 additional supportive housing units for families to transition to after treatment. The building also houses an array of supportive services. As a result of the Family Works program, more than 80 babies have been born without drug or alcohol exposure. 


Many families have been helped by HFS, including Leelynn and her children. Leelynn found her way out of methamphetamine addiction as a result of her treatment at the residential substance abuse program. Once separated from her four children, her family is now reunited, and she has Nebraska Family Works to thank. Read Leelynn’s full story on the HFS website.


FHLBank Topeka’s 2019 AHP round closed June 28. Watch for more information this fall about our successful 2019 applicants. Information about the 2020 AHP will be available in January.



500 SW Wanamaker Road
Topeka, KS 66606





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