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Gov. Reynolds' Affordable Housing Proposal Gets First Statehouse Hearing

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall
AP file
Gov. Kim Reynolds talked about Iowa's need for affordable housing in her Condition of the State address last month.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to expand affordable housing options in Iowa had its first hearing at the Iowa Capitol Thursday, and affordable housing advocates, business groups and local government representatives expressed support for the package.

The bill would create new tax credits for developers of low-income housing up to $15 million per year. It also would remove the $3 million cap on revenue for local housing trust funds, allowing more money to flow to those agencies.

Reynolds' proposal would double workforce housing tax incentives from $25 million to $50 million, with $20 million set aside for small cities. And it doubles the brownfield/grayfield tax credit to $20 million, which is used to redevelop properties that have environmental hazards.

Logan Shine, the governor’s lobbyist, told a Senate subcommittee that Iowa will need an estimated 47,000 additional homes by 2030.

As the governor travels the state, almost every stop, almost every business owner [says], ‘We need housing,’” Shine said. “If we expect Iowa to grow, we need places for them to live that they can afford.”

The bill would also create a disaster housing assistance program, which would include eviction prevention services during a disaster.

Lobbyist Tom Chapman said the Iowa Catholic Conference supports the governor’s proposal.

“Helping people find affordable housing was a priority even before the pandemic, and since then it’s gotten worse,” Chapman said.

Lisa Houser with Habitat for Humanity said she supports the bill, but also believes there should be provisions added to help Iowans purchase homes.

“At the end of the day, we can develop more houses throughout the state—and we should, it’s definitely needed—but if families still struggle to get a loan to purchase those homes then we still have a gap,” Houser said.

Others raised concerns about the structure of the proposed low-income housing tax credits, and requested that tax credits be available for improving occupied units.

Republican Sens. Mark Lofgren of Muscatine and Mike Klimesh of Spillville, as well as Sen. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids, agreed to advance the bill and keep working on the details.

Republican senators have also advanced a bill that would allow landlords to discriminate against people with housing choice vouchers in cities where that’s been banned.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter