Budget & Policy Work Continues

Budgets continued to be the main focus of the week, although budget targets have not yet been agreed upon between the two Chambers. Negotiations continued behind closed doors, along with policy work on legislative priorities, such as property tax reform, biofuels standards, and mental health funding. Floor debate on policy bills was limited this week and most legislators, except leadership involved in budget negotiations, went back to their home districts on Wednesday. The final two weeks of session will be spent finalizing the budget and passing key policy priorities, such as tax reform.

Iowa Housing Partnership continues to monitor several bills relating to affordable housing; below are this week’s highlights.

SF 295HF 582: This is Governor Reynolds’ Omnibus Housing bill with several divisions aimed at boosting affordable housing throughout Iowa. A Senate subcommittee meeting was held this week and the bill moves forward for consideration by the full Ways and Means Committee. Similarly, a Ways and Means subcommittee with Reps. Hite, Boden and Jacoby has been assigned. Iowa Housing Partnership continues to work with housing advocates and stakeholders in targeted legislative districts across the state to encourage greater grass-roots contacts with key legislators. Iowa Housing Partnership SUPPORTS.

SF 252HF 720: This legislation prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances that bar landlords from refusing to accept housing vouchers. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill is on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature. Iowa Housing Partnership is AGAINST.

HF 626: This legislation aims to provide property tax exemptions for properties located in areas previously ‘redlined’ and subjected to lending discrimination. The House passed the bill unanimously, 96-0. Being funnel proof, it is eligible for consideration by the full Senate Ways and Means committee. Iowa Housing Partnership SUPPORTS.

SF590: Senator Mark Lofgren’s legislation (formerly SF 100) provides for the creation of land banks. Senators Dawson, Jochum, and Roby Smith held a subcommittee on the bill and moved it forward for consideration by the full Ways and Means committee, where it was also approved. Iowa Housing Partnership SUPPORTS.

SF 373:  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Lofgren, establishes a homeownership tax credit program for charitable contributions to certain low-income housing developers. The bill is in the Ways and Means committee for future consideration.  Iowa Housing Partnership SUPPORTS.

HF 833: This legislation (formerly HF 442) allows for the termination of a tenancy only for material violations of the lease, for legitimate business reasons and due to changes in use for the land for mobile and manufactured homes.  The bill did not receive a floor vote in the House, however, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Lohse, has filed an amendment with similar protections onto another bill, SF 469, relating to mobile homes. SF 469 is currently on the unfinished business calendar and awaits consideration by the House Chamber. Client is unregistered/monitoring. 

We thank the following organizations for renewing their memberships:

Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO)

Midwest Housing Equity Group (MHEG)

City of West Des Moines

Iowa Council of Governments

From the President's Desk...

This week will take a break from board member introductions to focus on the Iowa Legislature – specifically, the proposed Governor’s proposed Housing Omnibus bill currently under consideration in each chambers Ways and Means Committee.  

Iowa Housing Partnership was very excited when the Governor Reynolds proposed the bold plan to increase affordable housing across Iowa. The main highlights are:

  • Increase funding to the State Housing Trust Fund                                          
  • Increase the Workforce Housing Tax Credit from $25 MM to $50 MM
  • Expand the Redevelopment Credit from $10 to $20 million               
  • Implement a new Iowa Housing Tax credit program       

What does this mean? Iowa is fortunate to have a Housing Trust Fund in every county. The appropriation for the housing trust funds currently comes (in part) from the real estate transfer tax but is limited $3 million from that source. The proposal would lift the cap, and make sure that more money would go to the Housing Trust Funds. These Housing Trust Funds deal with all facets of affordable housing – whether funding repairs, building new or rehabilitating existing homes. Their network allows for quick funding to the most vulnerable residents in Iowa to help build and keep viable, affordable housing.

Expand the Workforce Housing Tax Credit – This credit has proven overwhelmingly successful, and a critical component in being a much-needed gap filler, especially important for rural projects. To increase this Credit makes economic sense, especially when one factors into the equation the immediate economic development that a housing credit does. Studies have shown that a housing tax credit creates a $3.10 benefit to every $1.00 spent. If $350,000 of the Workforce Housing Tax Credit is given, it would be replaced with $1,050,000 of immediate economic development activity in that location. Therefore, $50,000,000 of WFHTC could, in theory, translate into $155,000,000 of economic development activity for the state of Iowa, helping create much needed housing. 

Expand the Redevelopment Credit from $10 to $20 million, for redevelopment of brownfield and greyfields. Brownfields and greyfields are often land parcels that are extremely difficult to develop. They may have had something on them before, maybe a building that was ultimately torn down, and this money will help put that land back in use, and most importantly, taxable.   

Finally, the creation of a state affordable housing tax credit. Each state is given an allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits. They receive these in two different types of credits, 9% credits, which are very competitive, and 4% credits, which are not.

This state credit would be used in conjunction with the federal 4% low income housing credit, which is vastly under-used in our state. A state credit is very popular solution across the country. Indiana, Arizona, and Illinois also introduced legislation creating a state housing credit. Virginia and Pennslyvania introduced and signed into law a state housing credit; Massachusetts doubled their allocation, and Hawaii extended their credits.

Since 2013, only 18 projects have sought out 4% credits in Iowa, asking for $10,149,897 of credits, out of a possible $150,000,000 (estimated). What happens to the unused credits? The credits are returned back to the federal national pool, where they will then be transferred to other states that need the allocations.  

The math is easy: Iowa has lost $140,000,000 of federal credits, which if they had been used, would translate into $434,000,000! Put another way, $54,250,000 each and every year. Almost a half of billion dollars of economic development has been lost. Imagine how many former schools could have been transformed into critical housing in rural communities?

It is vital that this message get delivered to our legislators, and now. Iowa Housing Partnership sent out a call to action in a recent IHP newsletter – if anyone would like to share the information with advocates, here is the link: https://conta.cc/39NFgWP.

We urge to you to contact legislators and let’s move the Housing Omnibus Bill!

—Dan Garrett