How do we replace housing that's been lost?

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Marty Hoeger, guest columnist

When the flood waters broke through the banks of the Cedar River it devastated many homes and neighborhoods such as Time Check to Czech Village and everything in between. As the City of Cedar Rapids moves forward to rebuilding neighborhoods from the floods of 2008 we wondered how can we replace the housing that was lost.

Those neighborhoods that suffered the most damage we’re the backbone of what created this city what it is. They were the factory workers from Quaker Oats on the north end and the meat packers on the south end. Those neighborhoods were considered work force housing and proud of it.

Now when we discuss workforce affordable housing there is a certain stigma to it because some of the workforce housing comes with city, state and federal government subsidies so that developers can make the housing sustainable and affordable.

Two weeks ago there was a bus tour that toured from Marion to Cedar Rapids that showed citizens what affordable workforce housing projects that have been developed in the last 8 years. As we toured the neighborhoods we saw new single family homes where older homes once where sitting, we saw older homes that were remodeled with newer infrastructure to make the homes more efficient, we saw new multi-family buildings that were made of brick and we saw a former warehouse that was converted into townhomes. So we ask ourselves who lives in these affordable workforce housing units that the federal, state and city government help subsidized?

I can tell you from first hand the people that we have living in the homes that we had developed they are what is making our community great today. They are the construction foreman that works 50 plus hours a week, the Pepsi delivery driver that goes to work at 4 a.m. every morning, the medical office manager who is supporting two great kids on her single income, the Army veteran who is now an art teacher or the single person working at Trans America and paying off student loans.

We as a community need to embrace and support this type of rebuilding of workforce affordable housing in our community so that there is quality housing options.

• Marty Hoeger is president of The Neighborhood Development Corporation of Cedar Rapids.

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