Iowa’s New Normal: Constant, Worsening Floods

As Cedar Rapids city councilman Dale Todd took a lap around his bustling district on a recent Friday afternoon, he paused before reaching a neighborhood tavern, Parlor City, which stands adjacent to the sprawling NewBo City Market. “This was where community members would meet to discuss how we’d rebuild the neighborhood,” said Todd. “We’re probably one of the most resilient communities in the country.” It’s hard to imagine the area, now nearly fully developed, engulfed in flood water that devastated the city more than a decade ago. Disaster remediation tactics have gradually improved despite a lack of swift federal funding, […]

How 2020 Candidates’ Renter Tax Credits Would Work

Cost-burdened Iowans who rent housing may see tax benefits if certain Democratic hopefuls make it to the White House in 2020. Nearly a third of Iowans rent their homes, of which 40% are “cost-burdened” — paying more than 30% of their income on rent, experts say. Among several Democratic presidential candidates’ varied plans to address the growing concern is a relatively novel policy idea meant to give money back to renters in the form of tax credits. “[Renters] that are finding themselves paying 40 to 50% or more of their monthly income to their monthly housing costs, that’s our biggest […]

Contentious DSM Council Meeting Discusses Housing Zoning

A new Des Moines zoning code was pushed forward by the city council despite pleas by local developers and housing advocates to make the changes more flexible for lower-cost building. Council chambers overflowed Monday evening as its members unanimously approved the first of three readings on the first code overhaul in 54 years, after over four hours of public hearing. Controversy surrounds the proposed code’s minimum square footage requirements and other design standards. Some city officials and neighborhood associations are pushing for better quality and more variation in the city’s homes, though critics say the the plan will add further […]

Housing Issues Rise In Importance, Urgency For Iowa Caucus

Photo: Julian Castro touring a trailer park in Waukee where rents spiked with local activists in June. Affordable housing as a political issue is taking the stage nationally during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in a way it never has before. Experts say this election is the first time candidates are seriously discussing affordable housing during their campaigns, and the recent spotlight has created space for local advocates to highlight the issue as it spans Iowa. “Affordable housing remains a top issue in most of our communities across the state, in both urban and rural communities,” said local affordable housing […]