Kuntz: Contracting affordable housing


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On Thursday, Family to Family, an AmeriCorps program in Iowa City, will host an event to help more than 45 families prepare for a likely move next spring.

The Iowa City Housing Authority canceled its contract with Dolphin Lake Point Apartments last month because the apartment complex breached the contract, and now, more than 45 families will need to find alternative housing, such as moving to places that will accept Section 8 housing vouchers.  

Community members must refocus attention on the need for affordable housing, because so many families are working hard and abiding by their contracts but still face the hardships of poor housing conditions and questioning whether they will be able to find a place to live.  

"The thing about it is that Dolphin Lake has had chances over and over again to fix the problems, but I guess it didn't do it," said Valerie Horton, the co-coordinator of Family to Family. "Dolphin Lake is not a first choice — it's like a last choice, for people who say 'I don't know what else to do, and I don't want to lose my voucher.' "

Housing Administrator Steven Rackis said some families living at the apartment complex wanted a reason to move, and though the transition may be difficult, six families have found new homes that will accept their vouchers. The Housing Authority is working to ensure that every family will find homes that accept their vouchers.

"That's why we engaged the Neighborhood Center, because we want to look for all ways to help the families," Rackis said. "Currently, 100 percent of the vouchers are in use, so everyone with a voucher has found a place to live that will accept the voucher."

Still, affordable housing presents a significant issue for many families in this community, and though the city correctly canceled its contract with Dolphin Lake Point, all members of this community should be aware of the problems some families face.

"This needs be out there — people need to know what's going on and that it's not the tenants' fault," Horton said. "You get a woman supporting her kids making minimum wage and doing what she's supposed to do, but these landlords did not do what they needed to do."

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