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Linn County will get 290 new housing units with nearly $38 million in derecho recovery aid
Federal aid will fund new single- and multifamily construction
CEDAR RAPIDS — An influx of federal funding awarded this week will aid in Linn County’s recovery from the 2020 derecho, fueling a massive investment in the construction of 290 new housing units after much of the area’s housing stock was damaged by the storm’s ferocious winds.
The city of Cedar Rapids received more than $24 million through the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds — the lion’s share of approximately $38 million awarded to Linn County, which bore the brunt of the derecho’s devastation.
Overall, the award supports 94 multifamily units — 48 of which are affordable — and 76 for-sale single-family units within Cedar Rapids. In other parts of Linn County, the funds will support 92 rental units and 28 single-family units.
“The mayor and City Council have recognized the importance of creating new housing opportunities, whether that’s residential or multifamily, and we very much appreciate this program and the state’s support,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said.
The funds were allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and funneled through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Cherry Hill: $165,000 for a unit from Wes Waters
Foxtail Ridge: $2.616 million for 16 units from Abode Construction
Fruitland: $165,000 for a unit from Waters
Ginkgo Ridge: $3.768 million for 16 units from Josh Bass’ Bass Development Group
Green Acres Grove: $5.589 for 25 units from Autumn Woods’ TW Homes Inc.
Kirkwood Village: $2.289 million for 14 units from Hannah Kustes with Abode Construction
Meadowlark: $165,000 for a unit from Waters
Shamrock Village: $330,000 for two units from Steve Emerson
Total: $15.09 million
Grey Hawk: $3.695 million for 40 units from Darryl High
Johnson Gas: $4.75 million for 50 units from Emerson
Northwest Neighborhood Infill Project: $380,000 for four units from Charlie Nichols’ JPAC Investments
Total: $8.825 million
Funds help meet C.R. housing needs
Cedar Rapids Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt said the funds will help provide opportunities for infill development and create housing throughout the community.
“With costs of construction, the interest rates going on, having these programs really makes sure that workforce housing is continuing to be built,” Pratt said. “We want to continue the momentum of filling those gaps in the community.”
City Housing Services Manager Sara Buck said this funding will help make a dent in some of the demand projected in the city’s annual Maxfield housing analysis, which shows a need for all types of housing over the coming years.
It’s especially rare that single-family construction is subsidized, Buck said, so this is an opportunity the city hasn’t had since after the 2008 flood to give households access to homeownership at an affordable price.
The program helps fund multifamily housing at a mix of price points — both market-rate and affordable, Pratt said. The city supported the multifamily rentals with a local match through its standard incentives program — a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement.
These funds also carry additional mitigation requirements to help the properties withstand higher winds and boost the community’s resiliency to future disasters, Pratt said.
Plus, Buck said these homes will be more energy-efficient, going beyond normal code requirements.
After an environmental review process, Buck said developers should be able to begin construction in the next 90 or so days. Funds have to be used by 2026.
“We’re very excited to get them under construction and get them open and have some additional housing available in our community,” Buck said.
Overall, Buck said there were nine single-family applications totaling 101 units and 13 multifamily applications for 240 units — 170 of which were affordable.
Other Linn communities receive funds
For single-family units in other parts of Linn County, developer Chad Pelley received $990,000 for a six-unit pocket neighborhood on Linn County’s Dows Farm “agri-community” development. Additionally, Abode Construction received nearly $3.3 million for 20 single-family units in Marion, and Habitat for Humanity received $314,434 for two single-family units in Walker.
As for rental units, Emerson received $5.1 million for 42 units in Center Point. In Marion, Jeff Bohr with High Development Corp. received nearly $2.6 million for 30 units, and Jerry Waddilove was awarded $1.7 million for 20 units.
Outside of Linn County, projects in Marshalltown, State Center, Atkins and Belle Plaine received a combined total of about $6.3 million for 25 single-family units and 35 rental units.
While this money will go toward new single- and multifamily housing construction, there are more disaster relief funds available for other programs. Those applications will be due this spring.
Buck said Linn County has $4.4 million available for tree planting, $1.3 million for generators and $2.5 million available for owner-occupied home rehabilitation for those who still have derecho damage — for instance, mold issues stemming from water damage caused by the storm.
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