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New round of workforce housing program opens

Developers sought for smaller Iowa communities

Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, speaks during a coronavirus news conference on April 8
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, speaks during a coronavirus news conference on April 8. (Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register)

A program targeting development of housing in smaller Iowa communities has about $10 million in tax credits available to developers.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has opened a new application round for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program.

“Workforce housing is one of the best policies we’ve done for housing development,” Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham said Wednesday. “There are two issues.

“One is capacity. We’ve never had enough, and right now there is still a backlog we are working through for the urban centers.

“The second issue,” she added, “is the amount is not right. It is not market-driven. We have that artificial cap of $200,000 for urban and $215,000 for rural. We need both of those things changed.”

Developers are sought to provide housing using abandoned, empty or dilapidated properties in 88 of Iowa’s less-populous counties.

To be eligible for the tax credits, projects must meet one of four criteria:

• Housing development on a brownfield or grayfield

• Upper-story housing

• Rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock

• New construction in greenfield space.

Projects should include construction or rehabilitation of at least four single-family homes or at least one multi-family building containing three or more units, or at least two upper-story units.

Upper-story units often are available above offices or retail stores.

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Total project costs may not exceed $215,000 per unit or $250,000 for historic rehabilitation. The work must be completed within three years after the tax credits are awarded.

Applications can be submitted at iowagrants.gov and will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. June 8. The applications will be reviewed and scored on a competitive basis.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority expects to announce grant awards in mid-July.

Gazette Des Moines bureau reporter James Q. Lynch contributed to this article.

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