Opinion | Affordable housing requires national funding

Iowa City needs funding from the national level to improve affordable housing.


Luke Krchak, Opinions Columnist

For some, housing is a simple given in their everyday life. But for others, it is not the case.

The demand for adequate affordable housing is a major problem across the country as the supply runs short. Unfortunately, there are few solutions in place.

Affordable housing programs, like the one in Iowa City, do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand. Affordable housing requires national funding to make sustainable change.

The global economy has taken a downward turn because of pandemic-related supply line shortages, and the war in Ukraine, which raised gas prices. As this becomes more of a problem in the next year as inflation rises and paychecks see little to no gains, people need affordable housing now.

Many could assume that funds could easily be increased at the local level by increasing local taxes. However, this would only work if times were good enough to sustain the increase.

With people becoming more strapped for cash, increasing taxes would only help short term. Higher taxes may lead more households to qualify for affordable housing, further increasing the demand.

There are ways to fund affordable housing programs without increasing local taxes.

Raising state taxes is less likely in Iowa. Affordable housing plans usually appear and improve with Democrat-led governments, unlike Iowa’s.

Increasing affordable housing funding through the federal government is the solution because funding could be used or shifted from other programs, similar to the COVID-19 relief stimulus. In other words, portions of funding for other programs would go directly to the affordable housing program.

Iowa City has an affordable housing fund in place that offers people subsidized housing.

In 2016, Iowa City passed its affordable housing plan, which currently has a $3.5 million budget. On June 6, they updated future ideas for the plan, with extensions into neighborhoods that have limited affordable housing.

While this plan is great, the city council already sees one of the problems being short-term budget increases. The budget is only $3.5 million, which is not a sufficient amount to build affordable housing. Affordable housing should not be poorly built and managed buildings that bring down the quality of life.

More funding from a national program can improve Iowa City’s current program. This could fund permanent housing, i.e., housing meant as a permanent fix to the problem, rather than a short-term spring-up of housing.

Essentially, with a national budget for affordable housing, more sustainable housing projects can improve the quality of life for the people in need of affordable housing. Common issues in affordable housing, such as location and maintenance, cause fewer problems for people experiencing poverty.

People will be more likely to stay in Iowa City as well if they know they can afford to live here, not just people lucky enough to get high-paying jobs.

But some argue that people must “work harder” to afford housing. It is not that simple as the program is made for people experiencing poverty, something not easily moved out of. Especially when there are systems in place that work against people in impoverished situations.

National funding is one of the only ways that can solve the shortcomings of the local Iowa City plan.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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