Celebrating the Investor Property Program 5th Anniversary
This fall marks the 5 year anniversary celebration of the Investor Property Partner Program, launched back in 2013 by two pioneer investor couples; Dave and PeggyShumway and John and Ginny Opsahl. Both couples generously rent apartments or townhouses that they own back to Fellowship Housing at a reduced rate for use by our single moms and their children.
When the housing market crashed in 2008 and homes were for sale in the years following at incredibly low prices, the Shumways thought, “What if we could just buy a house or two and help someone while investing our money?” One of their pastors pointed them to Fellowship Housing and they were put in touch with the Executive Director at the time, Brooke Bartlow. Dave and Peggy were driven by a desire to put investment money to better use by making a difference in the community; They would have been happy to do it even without the possibility of financial gain, but this made it a no-brainer. Dave reflects, “This way someone could benefit EVERY DAY from our investment. We feel like we are part of the Fellowship Housing team and have confidence knowing we’re not landlords on our own. It’s a great reassurance since this is something we’ve never done before.”
For the Shumways, it has become a very personal ministry over the years. Dave serves the single moms who live in their units by equipping them with knowledge on how to care for a home (change a furnace filter, fix a garbage disposal, and all other sorts of basic home maintenance). Dave admits, “Many of the things we have to take care of around the houses, I’ve never done before myself! I’m learning right along with the moms and hopefully encouraging them that they can figure these things out too.” His teaching approach prepares the moms for the time when they graduate and purchase or rent a home of their own, empowering the moms to confidently take care of their own property when they graduate while also being a positive male role model for the kids. Peggy proudly shared, “I am thankful for the time that David gets to spend doing work at the units, especially when the sons are there. Dave is such a wonderful role model for these kids who probably don’t get to see many men who are humble, Godly men engaged in doing acts of love for their families.”
Peggy recalls a profound moment during their time with the Investor Property Program; “One February weekend, David was out of town. The weather was well below zero and one of the units had an issue with the furnace. David and I connected and found a emergency HVAC company that could come. Our normal “guy” was booked all day with other people in similar situations. I grabbed my computer, and spent the late morning sitting on the floor of the living room in that unit with the two adolescent boys, as the mom was working. The repair man came and fixed the furnace for a fee that included an emergency premium. As I handed him my credit card, I didn’t flinch over the bill. We have the money in reserve plus more. I thought about how many months of discretionary spending that would have been for the mom on the Fellowship Housing budget. Even at her full wages, that would have been a big chunk. It was a reminder of how very blessed I am.”
Ginny Opshal is the one who originally presented the Investor Property Partner idea, birthed out of her real estate knowledge and business when she asked the question, “What’s this ‘housing’ part of Fellowship Housing?” and subsequent conversation, also with Brooke Bartlow. (Surely some divine timing was at play with these couples asking the same questions at the same time!) Ginny is able to keep an eye on the market for properties to utilize as well as assist moms in securing their own home to purchase or rent upon graduating the program. John is on the Food for Friends board, which you may know is a long-time partner of Fellowship, giving moms in the program grocery funds and teaching them how to shop on a budget, as well as generously providing them with Thanksgiving meals each year.
John and Ginny view their Investor Property as part of their tithe and ministry. John says, “There may be no tax write-off or financial benefit to us personally here on earth, but we know we are making a kingdom impact.”
Their desire to help the moms of Fellowship Housing runs deep with this eternal perspective in mind. They are grateful to be a part of keeping operating expenses down for the program and find joy in giving the moms a vision and hope through providing them the type of home now which they will be able to rent or own themselves once they graduate.
Recently, another investor joined and the model looks slightly different still as they own several apartment complexes and have generously rented to Fellowship Housing at a very reduced rate. This new partnership has allowed Fellowship to extend its housing options into Elgin, an area with great levels of poverty and need for its largely Hispanic population.
While different strategies may work for different investors, each one provides a life-changing opportunity for another homeless or at-risk single mom and her family in our community. Some of these investor properties even provide a third bedroom, allowing Fellowship Housing to help the occasional mom who comes to us with more than three children (more than can live in Fellowship’s typical 2-bedroom apartment format). Investor Properties can also provide some expanded amenities that most of us take for granted, like a garage or in-unit laundry.
We asked the Shumways, “What would you say to anyone considering becoming an Investor Property Partner?” Here’s what Dave said, “I’ve come to view this partnership like a short-term mission trip — anytime I go, I leave thinking about how we will minister to whoever is there. But by the time I get home I feel like I received way more out of it than they did. There’s tremendous joy in being able to use our resources that others don’t have to help make their lives better. I’d encourage others who have it within their financial resources – Put money towards a property and do this. You’ll find that you get much more out of it than the financial benefits.”
For all of the ways that our Investor Property Partners are making a difference, we truly thank you and celebrate this 5 Year Anniversary!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Investor Property Program or would like to get involved, please contact Pamela@fhcmoms.org.