Iowa City, the county seat of Johnson County, is located on the Iowa River in east central Iowa. The city is located about 25 miles south of Cedar Rapids and 105 miles east of Des Moines, the State capital. The population of Iowa City is 59,738.
For the first year of this Consolidated Plan, Iowa City is requesting $948,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, $400,000 in HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds, and a $69,600 Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG). This money will be used to finance 15 housing, community development, and service activities.
Iowa City's Consolidated Plan, which is titled "City Steps," was developed with wide citizen participation. During October and November 1994, six well-publicized public meetings were held at different locations to discuss the needs of low-income residents. The meetings were attended by a cross section of the community. Additionally, public access television rebroadcast the hearings throughout October and November.
Issues raised at the meetings were used by a committee to develop strategies and priorities for the Consolidated Plan. A draft of needs, strategies, objectives, and priorities was made available for public comment and a public hearing in January 1995. This document was then used during CDBG and HOME allocation hearings in February and March 1995.
A final draft of the completed City Steps Consolidated Plan was then made available for a 30-day public comment period before approval by the Iowa City Council on April 25, 1995.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
Iowa City is the home of the University of Iowa, which is the city's largest employer. Of the University's 27,000 students, over 75 percent (about 20,800) reside within Iowa City and make up about one-third of its 59,738 residents.
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which attract patients from well beyond the county limits, are important to the local economy. Iowa City is also a regional center for provision of many social and supportive services.
The city's population is predominately young. The median age is 24.9, lower than both the State (34.0) and the national (32.9) medians, reflecting the student population.
Median Family Income (MFI) for a family of four, according to 1994 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) income guidelines, was $47,000. Of the 21,964 households in Iowa City, 52 percent have annual incomes of 80 percent or less of MFI. Census data indicate the following levels of lower-income households in 1990:
Minorities totaled 10 percent of Iowa City's population, and non-Hispanic whites numbered 54,410, or 90 percent. Racial or ethnic minorities tallied by the census include:
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.
In the last decade the city's population grew by an unanticipated 18 percent. The single-family home market has the highest costs in the State. Rental costs are also very high. Students attending the University of Iowa saturate the rental housing market, increasing demand for rentals, especially of affordable units. With demand exceeding supply, there are very low vacancy rates and upward price pressures on both rental and owner-occupied housing.
Affordable housing is Iowa City's most important housing need. In addition to construction of new units affordable by lower-income households, there is the need to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing with rehabilitation and maintenance as necessary.
The housing situation in Iowa City is not typical of most of Iowa. Iowa City is the home of a highly educated, professional, and academic workforce. A high median income, $47,000, above general levels prevailing in Iowa, is generated by salaries paid to the professional workforce. This translates into a demand for larger homes which, in turn, raises land values. Students from the University of Iowa living off campus increase competition for affordable rental units, especially downtown and close to campus. Housing vacancy rates are less than 2 percent, and there is very little developable land for multifamily units.
There are 22,464 housing units in Iowa City, not including University student dormitories and family apartments. In 1990 there were 21,951 occupied units, 9,823 of which were owner-occupied and 12,128 rental units. New construction continues to add to the housing stock. In 1993 Iowa City issued building permits for 223 single-family dwellings, 10 duplex residential buildings, and 24 multifamily buildings (235 units).
Because the University of Iowa is the largest employer in the area, many homebuyers are university employees. Some graduate students or resident interns who plan to live near the school for only 2 or 3 years still find it beneficial to buy rather than rent. This results in a continuous turnover of owner-occupied units, with more than 200 sold each quarter for the last few years. In 1993, 1,248 single-family homes were sold in Johnson County, at prices from under $40,000 to over $250,000, but for an average price of $104,517.
Rents in Iowa City increased by an average of 6.45 percent between 1993 and 1994. Representative average rents in 1994 were:
Rental vacancy rates for various size units in 1993-1994 were: efficiencies, 3.8 percent; one-bedroom, 0.4 percent; two-bedrooms, 5.4 percent; and 0 percent for three-bedroom units.
A large proportion of lower-income households are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their gross income for their housing, including utilities. Some are severely cost-burdened, paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing expenses.
Of Iowa City households with income of 0 to 30 percent of the median, 82 percent are cost-burdened. Of those slightly better off, with incomes of 31 to 50 percent of median, 67 percent are cost burdened.
On October 10, 1994, the city conducted an official point-in-time count and survey of all sheltered homeless persons and those living in transitional housing. At 3 a.m. the same day, the Iowa City Police Department searched for and counted homeless persons living on the streets or under bridges in the city. The police found seven, but this may be an undercount. Anecdotal evidence from the homeless community indicates that during the warmer months as many as 30 homeless individuals camp just outside of Iowa City.
The October 1994 count tallied a total of 114 homeless persons. Of these, 54 were members of 15 families, 46 were individual adults over age 18, and 14 were nonfamily youths aged 17 or younger. All, except the seven counted by the city's police, were in emergency shelters or living in transitional housing.
Subpopulations of the homeless with special needs include the following:
The Iowa City Public Housing Authority currently has 82 public housing rental units for qualified lower-income households. The authority is in the process of constructing and acquiring another 43 units.
Rental assistance is provided to another 827 lower-income households with Section 8 housing certificates or vouchers, also administered by the Iowa City Public Housing Authority.
Another 542 rental units, in 6 projects, are assisted under other Federal programs such as Section 202, Section 236, and Section 811. These provide housing for the elderly, low-income families, and developmentally disabled adults.
In Iowa City, one barrier is affordability itself. Rent levels and home prices are above the State level and beyond the reach of many lower-income households.
The city has few of the common exclusionary barriers; the city allows small lots, mixed-use housing, and manufactured housing in single-family residential zones. It uses a number of Federal, State, and private programs to acquire, develop, and rehabilitate affordable units. But the city does not own any vacant developable land or tax-delinquent properties that could be used for affordable housing.
Real estate taxes are controlled by the State, which determines policies, the cap on taxes, and the annual rollback. With higher housing values than other parts of the State, taxes are higher too, and act as a barrier to development of affordable housing. Iowa City is financially dependent on property taxes as its main source of revenue; it does not have a local sales or income tax. The rollback policy limits the amount of taxes the city can collect, limiting the funds that could otherwise be applied to developing or providing incentives for low-income housing.
Other barriers to development of affordable housing include land-use controls, zoning ordinances, and growth limits. Planned growth is intended to limit development to areas adjacent to those already served to permit the orderly extension of infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. Development that does occur where services are not in place must provide for water, sewage disposal, streets, and other infrastructure in their design, effectively raising development costs.
There is a recognized need to continue fair housing activities, with the long-term objective of stopping discrimination, by encouraging scattered-site subsidized housing and educating the public about subsidized housing.
Using HUD formulas based upon the age of the housing stock, in Iowa City it is estimated that from 10,960 to 14,464 housing units contain lead-based paint. The greatest risk of lead-poisoning from paint is to children under age 7 living in dwellings with inadequately maintained painted surface. There have been very few cases of lead poisoning of children in Johnson County. Testing in adjacent counties found the incidence of elevated lead levels in children to be significantly lower than the national level of 10 to 15 percent. A 1993 county health study tested children in six day care centers and found only one child with an elevated blood lead level.
There are also housing and supportive needs for the elderly, mentally disabled, mentally ill, physically disabled, substance abusers, and victims of domestic violence. Each of these groups has the same need for affordable and accessible housing but each requires a different mix of supportive services.
Community development needs that have been identified emphasize services. There is a need for additional child care services, for after-school youth programs, for training in day-to-day living and coping skills, for crime prevention and awareness programs, and for tenant/landlord education services.
Improved access to public transportation is needed to help lower-income people get to jobs, day care, medical services, and school. The current bus system has limited hours of service and focuses on serving the downtown area. Because there has been development on the fringes of Iowa City, the current system needs to be reviewed.
To help lower-income families move to self-sufficiency, there is a need for economic development activities including employment training and education, employment support services, and expansion and retention of businesses that pay at least a living wage. (A rough estimate of the living wage needed for a family of three is $18,000 to $21,000. This is based upon HUD fair market rents and the assumption that no more than 30 percent of gross income is spent on housing expenses.)
Iowa City's Consolidated Plan attempts to use the resources that are available to bring together housing, jobs, and services to help low-income persons attain their highest degree of self-sufficiency.
For the 5 years of the consolidated plan, Iowa City has identified 10 general activities. Estimated expenditures to carry out these activities would be $6,352,000, the amount of Federal CDBG and HOME assistance expected over 5 years.
The emphasis in Iowa City's strategy is on housing, with 6 of the 10 priority activities targeted at improving housing conditions or availability for lower-income or homeless families or individuals. Estimated expenditures on housing activities will be $3,452,500 over 5 years.
For nonhousing needs, four areas of activity are anticipated in the 5-year strategy.
In 1990, 23 percent of Iowa City's population (12,074 people) had incomes below the poverty level. The strategy for addressing the problems of those living in poverty includes:
To accomplish the Consolidated Plan's strategy, the city will utilize available Federal, State, and private programs. Iowa City expects to receive $1,500,000 in Federal CDBG and HOME funds annually, plus support from other Federal programs such as the Section 8 rental assistance program.
State resources include the Iowa Finance Authority, which administers a rental rehabilitation program and manages a housing assistance fund for acquisition, rehabilitation, new construction, and homeownership assistance.
Essential to providing public services are numerous local and regional nonprofit organizations. Some of these include the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Elderly Services Agency, the Emergency Housing Project, Greater Iowa City Housing Fellowship, Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, and the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity.
Iowa City's Community Development Office will serve as the lead agency for the coordination and implementation of this plan. Iowa City has a tradition of working closely with housing and service agencies in the area. The city is the Public Housing Authority, so coordination is close between the authority and the Community Development Division, as well as the Department of Human Services and the Work Force Office. The City Council is considering how to consolidate two advisory committees, the Housing Commission and the Committee on Community Needs.
The city's Community Development office works closely with the Johnson County Human Services Coordinator and United Way of Johnson County. The city also works well with the Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Department of Economic Development.
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; as well as, provides a table with information about the project(s).
During the coming year, Iowa City plans to use $948,000 in CDBG entitlement funds, $500,000 in HOME program funds, a $69,600 Emergency Shelter Grant, and $622,090 in reallocated 1995 funds, with $60,000 in program income on 15 housing, community development, and public services activities.
The major emphasis will be on improving housing resources, with $1,305,147 budgeted for projects that include:
For community development, $101,000 is allocated for a facility for the Adult Day Program. For economic development, $28,860 is scheduled for the Institute for Social and Economic Development to provide business training and technical advice to low-income persons starting their own businesses.
For public services, planned funding includes:
Iowa City is an homogeneous community with no concentrations of low-income households, minorities, or deteriorated housing. For this reason, funds are not allocated geographically but used mostly on a citywide basis. The locations of many rehabilitation and other projects have not yet been identified.
Projections are that the activities included in this Action Plan will improve the housing conditions for 422 households, including 60 designated as elderly households. About 750 residents and 35 youths are expected to benefit from public services assisted by the plan.