The 2022 Affordable Housing Action Plan explores ways to create permanent housing options

New recommendations done by affordable housing stakeholders include an annual three percent increase to the already existing Affordable Housing Fund. The new recommendations were presented to the Iowa City City Council on Tuesday night.

The+Iowa+City+City+Council+listens+to+a+speaker+during+an+Iowa+City+City+Council+meeting+at+the+Iowa+City+City+Hall+on+Monday%2C+June+6%2C+2022.+

The Iowa City City Council listens to a speaker during an Iowa City City Council meeting at the Iowa City City Hall on Monday, June 6, 2022.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

Iowa City’s new affordable housing action plan is recommending that the Iowa City City Council explore permanent affordable housing around the city. 

The new plan will also increase efforts to educate tenants on their rights and add an annual 3 percent increase to the Affordable Housing Fund.

In the fiscal year 2023 budget, the City Council has allocated $3,598,374 to bring affordable housing to the city. The Affordable Housing Action Plan started in 2016 to increase affordable housing around Iowa City, said Tracy Hightshoe, Neighborhood and Development Services Director at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

In the past year, the Affordable Housing Committee has received public feedback on what projects they should fund next. After hearing from stakeholders, the committee came up with recommendations to bring to the City Council. 

One recommendation was to prioritize housing developments in neighborhoods that do not have a lot of housing opportunities available.

Hightshoe said that another way to bring more affordable housing was to educate tenants on their rights. Hightshoe and the rest of the committee are working alongside University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government in this effort.

“I believe you saw their magnets about educating students about who to call if they have problems with their lease,” Hightshoe said.

The Affordable Housing Action plan is hoping to accomplish is to make certain housing more permanent rather than temporary. 

“We’re trying to create those win-win situations that lead to permanent affordability to identify a revenue stream that would help us buy the lot,” Hightshoe said. 

Hightshoe said the new affordable housing plan will not solve all housing issues in Iowa City, but rather get closer to helping more people. 

A goal to address housing inconsistency is to bring different kinds of homes such as building different kinds of homes such as multi-family, and single-family houses. 

“I think some of the largest potential for getting affordable housing is in the center of Iowa City, the university impact zone,” Councilor John Thomas said. 

An annual increase of 3 percent to the current Affordable Housing Fund is a recommendation being made by the Affordable Housing Commission. However, Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin does not think this increase will solve the problem. 

“It’s very complex, but a million dollars even with a 3 percent increase is not going to solve this problem,” Fruin said. 

Fruin said city staff will review this recommendation and plan in 5 to 10 years but sees the city going at the same pace it is currently. 

“We’ll update this report in five to 10 years and I hope we’ve made good progress. But with the growth pressures we’re facing and the supply that we have right now, I suspect we’ll be doing good just to keep pace,” Fruin said. 

Hightshoe said some of the recommendations are easy and can be implemented overnight but others will need comprehensive planning.

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