Moving Housing Forward for Iowans!

The Governor’s Omnibus Housing bill continued to be the main focus of housing initiatives at the Statehouse this week. We continue to be encouraged by the meaningful impact this legislation would have on affordable housing opportunity for Iowans across the state.

The reality is that Iowa needs affordable housing to continue to grow and thrive. The Iowa Economic Development estimates that Iowa will need an additional 47,000 housing units by 2020. Affordable housing at a variety of income levels is key to Iowa’s future economic success.

The Iowa Housing Partnership is deepening our relationships with our members and other stakeholders supporting the governor’s initiatives. Below is our legislative update on items impacting housing, which we will send out weekly during the session. We would encourage you to contact your local legislators. You can find contact information here.  Many legislators are having virtual or in-person town halls and the next week or two is the perfect time to talk with legislators about the importance of affordable housing.

The fifth week of session moved right along with legislators focusing on subcommittee and committee work. The deadline for individual bill draft requests has now passed. As the legislature approaches the first funnel on March 5, legislators are moving bills forward to the next step and working to pass them out of committee before that important first deadline. The respective Chambers saw more debate this week as well. Iowa Housing Partnership is following several bills relating to affordable housing; below are this week’s highlights.

SF 295/HSB 178: As a reminder, Governor Reynolds’ omnibus housing legislation would:  

  • Create a state-level housing tax credit to help in the building of affordable housing with funding up to $15 million, which will leverage an additional $23 million of federal incentives
  • Double the funding to Iowa’s very successful Workforce Housing Tax Credit program from $25 million to $50 million
  • Expand the Redevelopment Credit from $10 to $20 million, which enables the redevelopment of brownfield and greyfields throughout Iowa’s communities.
  • Increase funding to the State Housing Trust Funds by removing the cap on the real estate transfer tax

Having been approved by the subcommittee late last week, the Senate Local Government committee approved the measure on Tuesday. The bill was renumbered as SF 295 and now moves forward for consideration by the Senate Ways and Means committee. Since Ways and Means bills are not subject to the first funnel, it’s expected that Iowa Housing Partnership is collaborating with housing advocates and stakeholders across the state to support the initiatives. The House bill, HSB 178, passed out of subcommittee this week as well, for consideration by the Economic Growth committee. Iowa Housing Partnership supports. 

SF 10: This legislation, sponsored by Senator Lofgren, removes the cap on the real estate transfer tax, which is also part of the Governor’s plan. Iowa Housing Partnership supports. 

HF 21: This legislation aims to provide property tax exemptions for properties located in areas previously ‘redlined’ and subjected to lending discrimination. A subcommittee was held this week and the bill moved forward for consideration byt the committee. Iowa Housing Partnership is undecided. 

SF100: Senator Mark Lofgren introduced SF100 again this session providing for the creation of land banks. Iowa Housing Partnership supports. 

SF 252/HSB 171: This legislation prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances that bar landlords from refusing to accept housing vouchers.  Despite vocal opposition and concerns about the legislation, the House version passed subcommittee this week and will move forward for consideration by the Local Government committee. The Senate Local Government committee approved the bill and it will be eligible to be considered by the full Senate. Iowa Housing Partnership opposes. 

Upcoming Legislative Forums

Now is a great time to tell your legislator why supporting affordable housing is important to you and your organization! Attending a forum is a great way to stay connected with your legislator and with many forums being held virtually, it’s even more convenient!

Please remember to always keep public health and COVID-19 safety in mind. Here is a list of upcoming forums:

Friday, February 12th, 2021

4:30-6:30 PM Legislative Forum-Cedar Valley, Area Legislators, Virtual event, see link to attend.

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

9:00-10:30 AM Legislative Coffee-Union, Cass & Adams Counties, Area Legislators. Virtual event, see link to attend.

Monday February 15th, 2021

8:00-10:30 AM Marti’s Morning Coffee- Des Moines, Rep. Anderson 

Grounds for Celebration, 2645 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310 

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

7:30-9:00 AM Legislative Forum – Jefferson County, Area Legislators, Virtual Event, see link to attend.

9:00-10:00 AM Town Hall- Arlington, Area Legislators, Arlington Community Center

10:00-11:00 AM Legislative Coffee – Harlan, Sen. Schultz & Rep. Holt, Chamber of Commerce, 1901 Hawkeye Ave, Harlan, Iowa

10:00-11:00 AM Legislative Forum – Le Claire, Sen. Cournoyer, Virtual Event, see link to attend

10:30 AM -12:00 PM, Legislative Forum – Quad Cities, Area Legislators, Virtual Event, see link to attend

From the President's Desk...

With this week came the extreme cold weather. What many may not know is that I like to walk to my office. 1.53 miles one way, a nice way to get some exercise, and still get the mind ready to do a day’s work. Often times this walk is uneventful, however this week proved not to be. Walking in extreme cold weather one layers up, and with a down coat, good boots, it becomes an efficient walk, albeit with curious looks garnered from passing cars.

During this walk, more than once I would walk past a homeless person, clearly not as lucky as I was in regards to proper winter gear. I would wonder “where is that person staying?” Early this week, a person was found deceased in a port-a-potty outside a Des Moines library (the libraries are being used as warm shelters during the day, but people must leave at 8:00 PM). Clearly, they had no place to go. Throw in COVID, the need for immediate housing is critically highlighted.

The Iowa Housing Partnership was formed to address ALL forms of housing, and emergency shelter is part of that equation. Every Iowan, no matter their status, deserves a quality place to call home, even if it is a home for one night.

Luckily a recent FEMA ruling has allowed for FEMA money to be used for 100% of reimbursable costs. This is critical as it was previously it was 75%. This will allow groups who use this money to do the emergency services, to do their job quicker and more efficiently.

As mentioned last week, we are be sending out statuses of legislation to our members on a weekly basis, as part of this communication going forward. We urge you to reach out to your legislators to support these efforts.

We urge you also, that if you have not joined the Iowa Housing Partnership, you consider joining. Things are happening and things are changing, and it is an exciting time to be a part of this movement, so we urge you to renew your membership or join us for the first time.

—Dan Garrett