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Affordable Housing In Demand Across Iowa

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Alhambra Apartments, located at 801 8th Street in Sioux City, Iowa; seen from the southeast.

Across the country, rental markets are booming. That’s true in parts of Iowa, especially Sioux City.

Maynard Porter is president of the Siouxland Rental Association. He says the only advice for someone looking to rent in Sioux City right now is simple - good luck.

“You’d probably end up in a motel for a few weeks. I’ve been involved since 1979, and I’ve never seen the market like this. My crews are instructed to lock the doors, otherwise we spend an inordinate amount of time telling people the rentals are not ready yet,” he says.

The growth in the area is due to plans to expand operations at a local meat packing plant and several construction projects that are drawing temporary workers.

Jerry Anthony, an associate professor of urban planning at the University of Iowa, says there is also a lack of affordable rentals in college towns around the state, not just in Sioux City.

Twenty-five percent of Iowans are cost-burdened when it comes to housing, meaning that more than 30 percent of one’s household income goes toward paying rent or a mortgage.

Courtesy of Daniel Tardy

“Vacancies are very high at the luxury end, but there is a shortage of housing for people who are on the lower end. And because of new development of luxury housing, that gap is widening,” Anthony says.  

During this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talks with Porter and Anthony about the housing crunch. Then, in the second half of the show, Kieffer talks with Daniel Tardy, who owns a business called House2Home which helps buyers who don’t qualify for traditional bank financing move away from renting toward home ownership.

Tardy started his company in 2009 and has so far helped more than 20 families buy homes “on-contract.” 

“I knew when I founded House2Home that I wanted to serve a portion of the population that needed help. I began to rehabilitate my first home in 2010, but I didn’t want to rent it out, which is how I fell into ‘rent to own’ or lease purchasing,” Tardy says.

“We tend to be a little more lenient when it comes to credit. A bank is dependent upon the numbers, and from a business perspective, I understand why they have to turn some people away, but it’s more personal for me. If someone is revamping their life, I see potential there.”

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River