Iowa City City Council extends Section 8 housing absence to 60 days

The council doubled the allowed absence period from 30 days to 60 days on Tuesday.


Gabby Drees

Executive director of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and former Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih speaks at an Iowa City City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Emily Delgado and Ryan Hansen

The Iowa City City Council passed an amendment to Iowa City Housing Association Section 2.3 extending the ability for individuals in the Section 8 housing to be away from their residences for 60 days, increased from 30 days.

The approval comes after the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa brought forth the proposed amendments as a means to provide more flexibility for individuals returning to foreign countries to visit relatives.

The council sent the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa’s proposed amendments to Iowa City’s Housing and Community Development Commission for review as the amendments. 

“First, I’d like to thank HCDC members and our request to take time to take a look at this specimen and special considerations and our ask if it could be expedited. I am in favor of this,” City Councilor Pauline Taylor said at the council formal meeting on March 1. 

Iowa City Housing Authority Administrator Steve Rackis said the 30 days to allow for absence for Section 8 housing began 24 years ago when the Housing Authority defended 30 days as brief. 

“We set up a meeting to discuss with staff their concerns and the Center for worker Justice had requested that we revise the policy they have found the 30 days was not enough time for families to travel overseas,” Rackis said. 

Rackis said that they were made aware of the conflicts Section 8 tenants have after former Iowa City Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih brought it to their attention. 

Salih thanked the council for hearing the proposal and asked council members to highly consider passing the proposed amendment. 

“They felt that the 30 days was a barrier to those families going back to their countries to see their families and relatives,” Rackis said. “So we met with the center for worker justice and had a conversation.”

Taylor spoke in favor of the amendment, citing the difficulty and time commitment required for many living in Section 8 housing.

“People want to make the most of whatever time they have to visit with their families,” Taylor said. “I’m thankful to have my family just across town and can hardly imagine having family thousands of miles away and rarely getting to see them, let alone spend enough time with them.”

The motion passed unanimously.