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Program Targets Upper-Story Housing in SE Iowa

Jason Parrott
The Great River Housing Trust Fund is setting aside money to encourage developers to build 2-10 upper-story housing units in downtown buildings throughout southeast Iowa.

Southeast Iowa is seeing its fair share of upper-story housing projects with work underway on dozens of units in Burlington, Fort Madison, and Mount Pleasant. Now there is money available for developers focusing on smaller projects.

The money would come through the Great River Housing Trust Fund, which is managed by the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC). Commission Director Mike Norris said the oversight board for the trust fund agreed to set money aside for people interested in constructing 2-10 downtown units.

“This will be for smaller projects that maybe don’t have as much ability to go after tax credits that larger projects do, so we are really focusing on those smaller projects that really don’t have a place to go but really have a good idea,” said Norris.

Norris said applications for the downtown development grants are  being accepted by his office. The amount available is still being determined.

“We find that these kind of projects fall into a donut hole, in terms of assistance that they can receive, so we carved out a part of our program to look at these projects and see if we can’t get something going,” said Norris.

The Great River Housing Trust Fund has been working with low-to-moderate income families for five years. It has helped fund nearly 200 projects in Des Moines, Henry, Lee, and Louisa Counties totaling almost $2 million.

The vast majority of the assistance has come in the form of home rehabilitations (118) or down payment assistance (74). Norris expects interest in the down payment program to grow thanks to the trust fund increasing  the money available from $5,000 to $7,500.

“We are constantly talking to lenders, cities, and homeowners,” said Norris. “Word of mouth is probably the best way that the information about our program has gotten out there. We have been successful for five years.”

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.