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.


Aurora, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program Grant


Homeless and at-risk veterans in Aurora, Colorado, now have a place to call home thanks to a long-standing partnership between The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) and Mercy Community Capital.

The Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons features spacious hallways, high ceilings, outdoor walking trails and fitness facility. But the true hallmark of this building is the sense of safety and security residents experience due to its trauma-informed design.

The intent of trauma-informed design is to create unique spaces where residents feel a sense of safety (both real and perceived), respect, connection and community, control, dignity and joy.

Jennifer Cloud, vice president of housing development for CCH, said her organization has been a pioneer in implementing trauma-informed design in their projects for many years. The design concept has strengthened their housing first model, which understands the lack of secure and safe housing is a barrier to recovery.

Located near the new VA medical center and veterans nursing home in Aurora, this type of housing has been a need for the community since the Fitzsimons Army Base closed in 1997. Even though the project has had tremendous community and political support, it wasn’t until 2018 when Colorado House Bill 16-1397 was signed into law that homeless housing for veterans was expedited as an urgent need. Vice President of Lending Stefani Joy said Mercy Community Capital was ready to help with pre-development and gap funding for the project.


“Being an FHLBank Topeka member is a huge asset when partnering with CCH because we can sponsor the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grants along with predevelopment loans,” she said. “The AHP fits into the core of our mission at Mercy Community Capital, and that is why we applied for the program.”

Mercy Community Capital provided a $1 million pre-development loan for CCH and sponsored the AHP grant for the Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons. The project was awarded $750,000 in gap funding from FHLBank Topeka’s AHP in 2018 and the structure was completed in 2020.





Homeownership Set-aside Program Grants

A pandemic and falling mortgage rates in 2020 presented a rare opportunity for first-time homebuyers, especially in rural communities.


“Who would have thought a pandemic would cause a rise in home sales?” said Cheryl Hill, manager of mortgage lending at Legacy Bank in Colwich, Kansas.


Colwich is a small community with a population of just under 1,500. And yet, Legacy distributed more than $53,000 to benefit first-time homebuyers in the community using FHLBank Topeka’s Homeownership Set-aside Program (HSP).


In small communities across the district, the program was just as popular. First State Bank in Gothenburg, Nebraska — population 3,448 — disbursed more than $124,000 in HSP grants. And Welch State Bank in Welch, Oklahoma, a town of only 584, reserved nearly $64,000 in HSP funds.


Kelli Garber, vice president at Welch State Bank, said the program offered much-needed help for customers looking to purchase in this housing market.


“We are the only financial institution in our area that participates in the HSP or offers down payment assistance," she said.


The HSP provides up to $7,500 in closing cost, down payment and repair assistance for first-time homebuyers earning at or below 80% of the Area Median Income.


Both Welch State Bank and Legacy Bank foster relationships with area real estate agents who bring in clients needing such assistance and who would not have been able to qualify for a home loan otherwise.


While happy to have a competitive edge in mortgage lending, both banks agree that making homeownership a reality is good for their communities.




Norman, Oklahoma

CDP and CHP advances

The key to making any deal successful is to make the terms favorable to both sides. With help from discounted advance funds from FHLBank Topeka, Great Nations Bank was able to sweeten the deal for their customer while keeping the terms comfortable for their own balance sheet.

With locations in the Oklahoma City suburbs of Norman and Yukon, Great Nations Bank is a community bank with assets of $83 million. Keeping their cost of funds at a manageable level can be a challenge for this small bank. The Community Development Program (CDP) and Community Housing Program (CHP) helped them address that challenge head on.

The CDP provides advances priced below FHLBank’s regular rates to help members finance qualifying commercial loans, farm loans and community and economic development initiatives in the areas they serve. The CHP offers similarly priced funding to finance owner-occupied and rental housing in members’ communities. Great Nations used both programs in 2020. Their CDP advance helped finance the purchase of a 100-yearold office building in the heart of Ardmore.

“The new owner is a local businesswoman who already owned the building next door,” said Lynn Groves, SVP, commercial lender. “Helping her purchase this building meant the property’s ownership stayed local.”

With the flexibility in terms of up to 30 years with the CDP advance, Great Nations was able to lock in a longer fixed rate for their borrower.

“The CDP helped make our offer competitive and still preserved our margin,” Lynn explained.

Great Nations also used a CHP advance to help a local investor purchase an apartment complex in downtown Oklahoma City. The eightplex complex is in an up-and-coming area of the city and has stayed fully rented. The new owner will keep needed downtown housing available to the community. When future deals are in the works, Great Nations Bank plans to keep their CDP and CHP application close at hand. Finding an option that provides value to their bank and their customer means more successful loan closings are on the horizon.


Denver, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program

All the elements for a much needed affordable housing project in West Denver were there.

Housing costs were skyrocketing. The neighborhood was quickly gentrifying. And there were two buildings desperate for repairs. With a little determination from local housing agencies and a strong partnership with Colorado Federal Savings Bank, Arroyo Village was born.

“Arroyo Village is the first project of its kind in Colorado to encompass a continuum of care for people experiencing housing instability,” said Tracy Gargaro, CFO/CIO of Rocky Mountain Communities (RMC). “It includes a homeless shelter, supportive housing and affordable housing.”

The 130-unit complex was a dual undertaking by both RMC and their neighbor agency The Delores Project, which serves women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness. The newly renovated property combines a 60-bed homeless shelter, 35 one-bedroom permanent supportive housing units and 95 affordable family housing units.

Colorado Federal Savings in Denver teamed up with JP Morgan Chase to finance the $19 million construction project. Colorado Federal also sponsored a grant of $750,000 through FHLBank Topeka’s AHP. Located near one of Denver’s busiest light rail stations, Arroyo Village is ideal for residents with limited income and transportation.

James Paris, Colorado Federal’s CRA Outreach Coordinator, said Arroyo Village was a great opportunity to establish more partnerships in the community. “As the builders’ bank,” he explained, “we thought Arroyo Village was an ideal project because it provides housing and financial services at a key transit development in west Denver.”



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.”





500 SW Wanamaker Road
Topeka, KS 66606





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