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City council approves affordable housing model

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | FEBRUARY 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City city councilors approved the use of a computerized mapping model to determine the location of affordable housing in Iowa City.

After no discussion or public comment, officials voted 7-0 in favor of using the system, which officials hope will distribute housing more equally throughout the area.

The city will be able to approve $1.5 million in projects of the $3.3 million in requests.

Approximately $2 million of requests were for new housing.

Officials will begin meeting with applicants Thursday, and Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s director of planning and community development, said they will begin allocating funding sometime next week.

City Councilor Regenia Bailey said councilors had received plenty of data and direction in a short amount of time before the vote, and other councilors agreed.

“Is there anything left to say?” she asked, shortly before the vote.

Thirty-eight entities made requests for the funding, 11 of which were interested in new housing, said Steve Long, Iowa City community-development coordinator. The others were hoping to use the funding for refurbishing existing space and nonprofits for facilities.

Several councilors said they were surprised at the lack of public comment.

Councilors approved a final updated version of the model, but it was largely similar to one officials had discussed previously. Only the legends were changed, Long said.

The approved computer model is based on seven factors, including three recommended by the area schools, which include testing scores, mobility, and lunch programming. The next opportunity for individuals to apply for affordable housing funding will be on Nov. 1. Long said people should keep the maps in mind for the next round of funding, to know when and where to apply.

“It will be interesting to see what it looks like next year,” Long said.

Iowa City officials said other cities across the nation with similar issues regarding housing, have sought out Iowa City’s current model. Long cited cities such as Bryan and Frisco, Texas, as well as West Palm Beach, Fla. — though officials in the Texas communities were uncertain who had made the inquiries. Officials in West Palm Beach could not be reached.

Alsie Bond, community-development program director in Bryan, said the city looks to other areas for “best practices,” though hadn’t heard of this particular idea.

Areas exempt from the funding include the Southeast Side of Iowa City and pockets near Hoover, Roosevelt, and Lemme Elementary Schools.

The allocation of funds is now up to the Housing and Development Commission, and Councilor Connie Champion she anticipates it will allocate funds toward things such as rehabilitation needs for nonprofits.


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