City Council still unsure on Forest View financial assistance parameters

Council discussions continued to deliberate how the city will provide assistance for members of the Forest View mobile home park.


Braden Ernst

Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin speaks at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Ryan Hansen, News Reporter

Iowa City City Councilors are still unsure over how to best financially assist the residents of the Forest View mobile home park in moving on Tuesday.

The council moved closer to determining how funds will be distributed and what parameters will be used to assess who is eligible for tax-free payments from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Residents will receive payments of a maximum value of $15,550 per household. The money will assist residents who are interested in moving out of the park including:

  • Households that make less than $40,626 per year.
  • Households that qualify for federal assistance programs.

Alternative city funds may also be provided to households that do not meet either of the above qualifications, City Manager Geoff Fruin said.

Mayor Bruce Teague said at the meeting the Forest View Tenants Association requested 50 percent of the funds up-front in order to assist with down payments for residents’ new living accommodations.

Councilors did not voice dissent from the immediate funding request.

Fruin said at the meeting that ARPA funds would certainly be able to be distributed to residents who have lived in the park since March of 2021, the month when the U.S. Congress passed and ratified the act.

The city would also likely be able to use ARPA funds to compensate residents of Forest View who have lived there since March 2020, he said.

Fruin said the city would have to provide funding for at least seven households who lived in the mobile home park prior to March 2020 directly from an alternative funding source and would total about $250,000.

The total number of households at Forest View sat around 85 when the Conditional Zoning Agreement was passed, Fruin said, and decreased to 59 as of March 2021.

Well into the second hour of debate on the topic, councilors reached an unofficial agreement to distribute 100 percent of the $15,550 to all residents living in the Forest View mobile home park when the Collective Zoning Agreement was signed in May 2019.

“How do we acknowledge that there was a challenge for the individuals that moved away or [for] reasons we all don’t know?” Teague said of the drop in Forest View residents.

After the unofficial agreement was addressed, Fruin said the city staff would be able to move quickly to get a formal decision on the council’s agenda but was hesitant to pinpoint a particular date.

“I think we can move pretty expeditiously,” Fruin said. “I hear the call from residents. I know the leasing cycle here. We want to get this out as soon as possible.”

Fruin said the city would be able to provide relocation assistance to members of the park by working with.

“Even though we don’t have a legal obligation for this at all, I know that we all feel a moral obligation,” Teague said.

Councilor Laura Bergus said it is important to decide on something quickly, as it is in the best interest of the people of Forest View.

“Something I want to worry about is continuing to push this out further,” Bergus said. “I think for expedience’s sake, my preference would be to try to get as close as we can to getting our staff to primal structure.”

Councilor Megan Alter said councilors should look at the funding provided to Forest View residents with the same lens used to allocate more money to repair asphalt along roadways in Iowa City than the potential total being provided to Forest View residents.

“We all were fine with [an] agreement on a bidding process for 1.47 million dollars for asphalt,” Alter said. “We’re looking at more than that for asphalt, and we’re talking about people.