This Week at the Capitol

After the rush of last week’s funnel deadline full of committee work, both chambers focused on floor debate. They moved several bills out of their respective chambers and some were approved by both chambers, moving onto the Governor’s desk for signature. The next major deadline is the second funnel on April 2, when bills have to make it out of both chambers to remain viable. Iowa Housing Partnership is following several bills relating to affordable housing; below are this week’s highlights.

SF 295/HF 582: This is the 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 is collaborating with housing advocates and stakeholders across the state to support the initiatives and boost support among legislators. Iowa Housing Partnership supports. 

SF 252/HF 720: This legislation prohibits cities and counties from passing ordinances that bar landlords from refusing to accept housing vouchers. The House approved the Senate bill, 56-38, after a long and lively debate. The only amendment approved by the Chamber provided for a delay in enforcement. The Senate concurred with the amendment and the bill is on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature. Since the House passed the Senate bill, HF 720 was withdrawn. Iowa Housing Partnership opposes. 

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 626: This legislation (previously HF 21) aims to provide property tax exemptions for properties located in areas previously ‘redlined’ and subjected to lending discrimination. The House Ways and Means committee approved the bill on Monday the House passed the unanimously, 96-0. It is now in the Senate Ways and Means committee for consideration and on March 24 a subcommittee meeting will be held. Iowa Housing Partnership supports. 

HF820: This legislation proposes eviction expungement of court records. The bill, formerly HSB 257, passed the Judiciary committee and is eligible for floor debate. Iowa Housing Partnership is undecided. 

SF100: Senator Mark Lofgren introduced SF100, providing for the creation of land banks. A subcommittee was held earlier this week and there will be a significant revision to the bill before it moves forward. Overall comments during the subcommittee were overwhelmingly positive. Iowa Housing Partnership supports

Upcoming Legislative Forums

Tell your legislator today 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:

Tell your legislator today why 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.

A couple of talking points in support of affordable housing:

  • Iowa’s business leaders and economic development officials across the state identify Iowa’s lack of affordable housing as a barrier to economic success.
  • Economic forecasts show that Iowa needs 47,000 housing units by 2030. 
  • Affordable housing is key to expanding economic growth for Iowa.

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

Friday, March 19th, 2021

9:00-9:45 AM Legislative Event Series – Quad Cities, Area Legislators

Virtual event, registration is required. Use link and register using the green Register button on the right-hand side of the page. Link to the event will be sent to registered attendees. 

Saturday March 20th, 2021

7:30-9:00 AM Legislative Forum – Jefferson County, Area Legislators

Virtual event, see link for attendance. 

8:00-10:00 AM Eggs & Issues – Rock Rapids, Sen. Whiting, Rep. Wills

Forster Community Center, 404 Main St., Rock Rapids, IA 51246

8:30-9:30 AM Legislative Forum – Albia, Sen. Rozenboom, Rep. Brink

Heritage Hall, 19 Benton Ave., Albia, IA 52531

9:00-10:30 AM Eggs & Issues – Spencer, Area Legislators

Council Chambers, 420 2nd Ave. West, Spencer IA 51301

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

Arlington Community Event Center, 853 Main St., Arlington, IA 50606

10:00-11:00 AM Legislative Coffee – Shelby County, Sen. Shultz, Rep. Holt

Chamber of Commerce, 1350, 1901 Hawkeye Ave. Suite 101, Harlan, IA 51537

10:00 – 11:00 AM Legislative Forum – Centerville, Sen. Rozenboom, Rep. Brink

Chariton Valley Planning & Development Center, 308 N 12th St., Centerville, IA 52544

10:30-11:30 AM Legislative Forum – Princeton, Sen. Cournoyer

Go Fish Marina Bar and Grill, 411 River Dr., Princeton, IA 52768

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

8:30-10:00 AM Eggs & Issues – Spencer, Area Legislators

Virtual event, see link for attendance. 

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

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

Grounds for Celebration, 2709 Beaver Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

6:30-7:30 PM Legislative Forum – Polk/Dallas Counties, Rep. Lohse

The Machine Shed, 11151 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, IA 50322

7:00-8:00 PM Blue Statehouse Alert – Statewide, House Democrats

From the President's Desk...

I started this week by taking my daughter and her family to the airport for a spring break trip to her in-laws in California, and as a parent, the concern about your child’s safety never leave your thoughts. It’s just what a parent does, right? Now, what does my concern for my daughter and her family, with the Iowa Housing Partnership’s weekly message? The Iowa Housing Partnership was created to support all things affordable housing needs. When you think that things are tilting for the better, as an affordable housing advocate, that does not mean we stop being an advocate.

This week showed exactly why this is important. Earlier this week, Senate File 252 passed both chambers and was sent to the Governor for her approval, should she choose to sign. It would ban cities and municipalities from implementing ordinances that would require landlords from being required to accept federal Housing vouchers, otherwise known as Section 8. When 43% of Section 8 tenants in Polk County are minorities and mothers with children, this legislation is mis-placed.  

A recent New York Times article, ‘She Wants Well-Qualified People’: 88 Landlords Accused of Housing Bias, shows how housing discrimination against federal voucher holders happens in our nation’s largest city, as many of those residents using vouchers are Black, Latino, or people with disabilities.”) This article also states how a federal lawsuit has been filed against 88 landlords in New York City, including some large, and notable real estate companies. 

This could lead to national traction for actions against Section 8 discrimination, yet Iowa is in the act of passing legislation that could allow for that exact discrimination to occur.

On Tuesday, Senate File 295, the Governor’s bold Housing Omnibus bill had its first subcommittee meeting in the Senate Ways and Means. It now goes to the full Committee, expecting to pass and continue on its journey. This is great news for affordable housing.  

Also in the Des Moines Register this week, there was a story about House File 626, which would waive property taxes for homeowners who invest the equivalent of 30% of their property’s value in their home through improvements. This bill will help reverse the long-term effects of “red-lining,” a 1930s government policy that cut off investments in predominantly Black, minority and working-class areas, and eventually led to the Fair Housing Act. This is great news for affordable housing, and rebuilding up formerly red-lined neighborhoods in Iowa.

Then, on the same front page of the Des Moines Register, a story about city that wanted to bar un-related adults (in this case, developmentally disabled) from living in a home, designed to give them the opportunity to experience living on their own for the first time in their lives. This city threatened to fine the owner of the home (also the owner of the Care Facility from where the adults came from).

All of this illustrates that as an affordable housing advocate, we can never let up, we can never stop worrying about affordable housing. We can never stop pushing for more opportunities to create affordable housing and we can never stop fighting discrimination against Iowans and marginalized populations.

The Iowa Housing Partnership urges you to join the us if you have not. 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


We thank the following for renewing the memberships, or recently joining:

Enterprise, Baltimore, MD & Des Moines, IA – Original Charter Member

Eide Bailly, Fargo, ND & Des Moines, IA – Original Charter Member

WNC, Irvine, CA & Des Moines, IA – Original Charter Member

Professional Property Management, W. Des Moines – Original Charter Member

Arch-Icon, Woodbine, IA – Member since 2019

Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority, Dubuque, IA – Member since 2019

North Iowa Area Council of Governments, Mason City, IA – Member since 2019

MaryAnn Dennis, Advocate, Iowa City, Iowa – Founding Board member

Woda Cooper Companies, Columbus, Ohio – New Member

Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County – Member since 2019

American Bank & Trust – Original Charter member