Iowa City fiscal 2023 budget expands on affordable housing efforts

Since the creation of the Affordable Housing Fund in 2016, Iowa City has funded several programs designed to bring more housing options to Iowa City. The fiscal 2023 budget expands on the city’s dedication to bringing affordable housing to all of Iowa City.


Jeff Sigmund

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

One of the Iowa City City Council’s goals in its 2022-24 strategic plan focuses on fostering affordable housing throughout Iowa City.

Since the creation of the Affordable Housing Fund in 2016, the city has deposited $1 million annually to the fund.

In 2021, the council bought eight duplexes in the South District. The duplexes were bought to open affordable homeownership in the South District.

“I’m really, really happy that especially in the South District, that there’s attention to strengthening the neighborhood but also to do it from within, that this is not a gentrification project,” Iowa City Mayor Pro Tem Megan Alter said. “This is about being able to help the neighborhood, strengthen their commitment to it, and to give them opportunities.”

The Affordable Housing Fund was a part of the Affordable Housing Action Plan. After the city council’s prioritization of affordable housing, a fund was created, said Erika Kubly Iowa City’s Neighborhood Services Division coordinator.

The purpose of the Affordable Housing Fund is to, “account for developer fees and contributions towards the development of affordable housing throughout the City,” according to the description in the Master Proposed Book of FY23.

“Substantial resources are again devoted to affordable housing with another $1 million earmarked for the affordable housing fund, bringing the total for this line item to $5.4 million over five years,” Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruinwrote in a letter concerning Iowa City’s budget for fiscal 2023.

Currently, there is $3.6 million in the Affordable Housing Fund and the money is apportioned into several different projects, including:

  • The Johnson County Housing Trust Fund
  • An emergency fund
  • Healthy Homes Program
  • An opportunity fund and programs to help acquire housing and emergency situations.

“A portion of the funds goes to our Healthy Homes program, which is a housing rehab program for renters and homeowners to mitigate environmental issues in their homes so they have asthma,” Kubly said.

Alter said she felt excited by the city council’s mostly unified opinions about prioritizing housing.

“It’s not simply something on paper. It’s not theoretical,” she said. “There are a lot of community members who need affordable housing and frankly, an incredibly expensive market.”

In addition to city-sponsored programs, Iowa City also participates in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Community Development Block grants programs.

Iowa City goes through a consolidated planning process to gauge public opinion on how to spend the money given to the city by the federal program.

Iowa City used the money from the federal grant for COVID-19 relief programs most recently, Kubly said.

“I think people have suffered through the pandemic with unemployment, you know, unexpected costs…housing tends to be less affordable over time,” Kubly said.

Kubly and her team at Neighborhood Services have developed new programs since the start of the fund in 2016 to address different aspects of affordable housing.

“We’ve definitely been expanding the work that we do and even with COVID we’ve been kind of adjusting to eviction prevention and, you know, making sure we’re meeting all the different needs of people who are looking for housing,” Kubly said.