Iowa City Council approves $500,000 in affordable housing funding

Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County to handle allocation

People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
People walk by the Iowa City City Hall which includes the Police Department in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The city will devote $500,000 toward affordable housing projects, the City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday evening.

Allocating money to help pay for affordable housing was atop a list of 15 recommendations in Iowa City’s Affordable Housing Action Plan, which was adopted by the city in September.

The money, which will go to the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County, comes out of a city affordable housing fund and is meant to provide aid for owner-occupied or rental housing projects that cater to those who earn 80 percent or less than the area’s median income.

“It’s a big deal,” said Tracey Achenbach, executive director of the housing trust fund. “Their dedication of funds shows their commitment and their understanding of the shortage of affordable housing in our county.”

The money must be used in Iowa City but, Achenbach said, the type of projects are yet to be determined. She said trust fund officials will know more about potential projects on Dec. 20, when applications for the next cycle are due.

Achenbach said the majority of the trust fund’s money comes from the state, which on average allocates just over $250,000 per year.

The city’s contribution is major, she said, but won’t make a large impact on meeting the need for affordable housing in Iowa City because it’s simply so severe.

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“I think we all know it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s a big drop. It’s an important drop,” Mayor Jim Throgmorton said of the allocation.

Council member Susan Mims said she was pleased the city is giving to the housing trust fund, which she said has a credible record.

Iowa City’s low to moderate income tenants faced a tough summer with the potential loss of the city’s most affordable options — the Rose Oaks Apartments and Forest View Trailer Court.

The city has allocated more than $50,000 to help ousted Rose Oaks residents move for renovations at the complex.

A celebration of the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County, along with the State Housing Trust Fund’s contribution to affordable housing, is scheduled for Wednesday. Officials are set to speak at 3 p.m. at 1900 Rochester Court, Iowa City, which is the 20,000th unit helped by the state fund.

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