Council Bluffs, Iowa, is located on the eastern bank of the Missouri, directly across the river from Omaha, Nebraska. The city, with a population of 54,315, is the county seat of Pottawattamie County and the commercial center for the agricultural counties of southwestern Iowa. Lewis and Clark, exploring the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, met with local Native Americans on a high bluff north of the present city. Mormons, on their trek west, settled here temporarily from 1846 to 1849. By then, the town was a major river-crossing site and a place where California-bound gold hunters outfitted themselves before heading farther west. When it was incorporated as a city in 1853, the community named itself Council Bluffs in memory of Lewis and Clark's historic council.
In 1859 Council Bluffs became the eastern starting point for the Union Pacific, the first transcontinental railway. The city remains a transportation center with railroad repair shops. Agriculture and associated industries, such as livestock feeding equipment and livestock feed, remain major parts of the local economy. Other products produced in Council Bluffs include playground equipment, structural steel, and pressurized pipe.
In its Consolidated Plan, the city of Council Bluffs describes its housing and community development needs and priorities, and a 5-year strategy for addressing these needs using Federal and other resources. For the first year of the plan, Council Bluffs is requesting $1,389,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. HOME and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funding will be requested form the State of Iowa on a project basis.
The published notices for public hearings on the plan (see Appendix A) suggest that the needs/strategic plan sections and the action plan were developed separately. The second hearing was for needs/strategic plan, and the 3rd hearing (2 weeks later) was on the action plan.
Input from the general public was part of the preparation process for Council Bluffs' Consolidated Plan. A Community Development Advisory Committee was formed to serve as a forum for receiving public comments and providing information to the public on the preparation, implementation, and evaluation of the city's community development efforts. Public hearings were advertised in the local newspaper, the Council Bluffs Daily NonPareil, inviting attendance and public testimony from citizens.
The hearings were held on January 12, February 22, and March 8, 1995. A draft of the housing and community development needs and 5-year strategy sections of the Consolidated Plan were available for public review, beginning on February 22. A fourth public hearing was held on March 28 to discuss the final plan.
The Community Development Advisory Committee will hold a public meeting in August or September 1996 to discuss the annual evaluation of activities conducted under the Consolidated Plan.
Council Bluffs is a community with a declining population located in the growing Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. The population in 1970 was 60,346, but decreased by 6.5 percent by 1980, and by another 3.8 percent by 1990, to 54,315.
The community is predominantly white. According to the 1990 census, Council Bluffs' racial and ethnic subpopulations are:
The median family income (MFI) for Council Bluffs in 1990 was $29,538. This is significantly lower than the $36,185 MFI of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area and the $35,939 national MFI.
Of the 21,108 households in the city, 50 percent have annual incomes of 80 percent or less of MFI. Census data show the following levels of low- and moderate-income households:
The lack of attractive, challenging, well-paying jobs in Council Bluffs hindered the economy's growth during the past 20 to 25 years. Job opportunities consist primarily of manufacturing, government, or retail positions. Many of the retail jobs pay only the minimum wage.
Lower paying employment has deterred the growth of the local tax base, hindering the improvement and development of infrastructure and public facilities. Council Bluffs is in constant competition with other jurisdictions in the metropolitan area for new job opportunities and investment. Improving the city's ability to compete with an aggressive Omaha business recruitment program is a high priority. Council Bluffs relies heavily on the Omaha economy; a relatively high percentage of Council Bluffs' residents work in Omaha.
Council Bluffs has a higher percentage of very low- and low-income households than the metropolitan area or the State as a whole. For the most part, demand for employment, goods and services, and housing exceeds the supply in Council Bluffs.
There is a need for rehabilitation of much of Council Bluffs' housing, both rental and owner-occupied. There is also a need for construction of new, subsidized rental units and rental assistance for more very low-income households.
The housing stock of Council Bluffs was made up of 23,012 units in 1990. Of these units, 21,131 were occupied, 7,145 by renters and 13,986 by owners. Of the 1,881 vacant units, 585 were for rent and 183 were for sale.
A significant part of the city's housing supply was classified as substandard, meaning it was not meeting all housing code requirements. An estimated 40 percent of renter-occupied units and 36 percent of owner-occupied units were reported as substandard by the 1990 census.
The median value of owner-occupied housing in Council Bluffs in 1990 was $44,500. Since then, this value has increased; in 1995 the median was estimated to be $53,400.
In 1990 the median contract rent in Council Bluffs was $381 compared with $401 for the entire Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. The majority (58.8 percent) of rents in the city were between $300 and $499 per month.
Geographically, housing values are lowest in the central and western (closer to the river) parts of the city. The highest priced homes are farther from the river in the eastern portion of Council Bluffs. Rents are similarly distributed. The least expensive rentals are in the central city and rents of more than $400 per month are found primarily in the eastern parts of the city.
A large proportion of lower income households are cost burdened, which means they pay more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing, including utilities. Some are severely cost burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing expenses.
Of Council Bluffs's 2,887 extremely low-income households, 64 percent are cost burdened and 48 percent are severely cost burdened. Of the 2,857 very low-income households, 51 percent are cost burdened and 11 percent are severely cost burdened.
An estimated 1,315 homeless persons per year need assistance in Council Bluffs. This includes 1,120 persons in 360 families with children, and 195 youths 17 years of age or younger. Of this population, 78 families with 267 members and 93 youths remain unsheltered. The rest are served by a small number of emergency shelters. The largest shelter, the private, nonprofit MICAH House Emergency Homeless Shelter, provides assistance to about 800 persons annually.
The Council Bluffs Municipal Housing Authority owns and manages a total of 295 public housing units in two communities that serve elderly and handicapped persons. The housing authority also administers a Section 8 rental assistance program with 499 certificates and vouchers. There are also 30 units of housing assisted through Section 8 moderate rehabilitation.
Regulations on land and housing development over the long run result in lower housing costs than in an unregulated environment. However, these regulations do affect housing affordability in the short term by requiring that new developments pay a fair share of associated public costs. Some of the policies affecting housing costs include:
An analysis of impediments to fair housing was last done in 1991. Although much of the report remains relevant, a complete revision should be undertaken within the next 5 years.
Based on the age of Council Bluffs' housing stock, 4,697 units occupied by lower income renters and 10,325 units occupied by lower income owners are estimated to contain lead-based paint (LBP). However, the presence of LBP does not in itself indicate there is an LBP-related hazard. There must be flaking, chipping, or dust from the paint to create conditions that could cause lead poisoning, generally involving ingestion of paint residue by young children. Older housing in disrepair, often lower income rental units, has the highest potential for LBP problems.
The Iowa Department of Public Health indicates that the greatest incidence of lead poisoning is in areas of the State with the largest number of houses built before 1960. Rates of lead poisoning in Iowa are generally greater in rural areas.
There are also housing and supportive needs for the elderly, mentally disabled, mentally ill, physically disabled, substance abusers, and victims of domestic violence. In general, the needs of each group are similar -- affordable and accessible housing and appropriate supportive services, which vary according to the needs of each group.
The estimated need over the next 5 years for low-income housing with supportive services (including supervision for some groups) for persons with special needs includes:
Nonhousing community development needs, by category, include:
The primary objectives are related to housing and include:
Priority investments in housing include:
Economic development has a high priority in Council Bluffs' strategic plan. The objective is to generate more jobs for lower income residents through:
Council Bluffs' steps to reduce poverty include:
To carry out this plan, Council Bluffs will make use of city, county, State, and Federal agencies and programs; educational institutions; nonprofit institutions; private lenders; and businesses.
The organizations with primary responsibilities to implement this plan will be the Community Development Department, Municipal Housing Agency, nonprofit institutions, and private industry. However, the Community Development Department will have the lead responsibility for coordinating and implementing the city's community development and affordable housing activities, which will include recordkeeping and other administrative elements and monitoring contracts with subrecipients.
Council Bluffs plans some 18 projects in 1995-1996 in the areas of neighborhood and housing redevelopment, homeless and transitional housing, public service and special needs, and economic development. Key projects include:
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).