Iowa City Housing Information

Housing & Homeless Needs Assesment: Housing Needs Assessment:
Substandard Housing


I. Development of the 2001-2006 Consolidation Plan (CITY STEPS) II. Housing & Homeless Needs Assesment III. Housing Market Analysis IV. Strategic Plan V. Certifications VI. Appendices
A. General Estimated Housing Needs B. Housing Needs Assesment C. Homeless Needs D. Supportive Housing Needs of Non Homeless Special Needs Populations E. Lead Based Paint Hazards
1. Renters 2. Owners 3. Elderly Persons 4. Persons with HIV/AIDS & their Families 5. Persons with Disabilities
6. Discussion of Cost Burden and Severe Cost Burden 7. Overcrowding 8. Substandard Housing 9. Discussion of Disproportionately Greater Need Based on Race or Ethnicity 10. Maxfield Computer Model Analysis

8. Substandard Housing

Iowa City is fortunate to have an active code enforcement policy, especially for rental units. Housing and Inspection Services (HIS), a City department, makes approximately 4,000 inspections and re-inspections annually, the vast majority being on rental property. HIS traditionally has not been involved with inspecting owner-occupied units except on a complaint basis.

For the purposes of this document, Iowa City defines substandard housing as "a unit of real property which has one or more major code violations, and/or threatens a household's safety and welfare". The majority of units that would be considered substandard are owner-occupied units, because they tend to be older and not kept up as well as rental properties which are inspected at least once every other year. However, due to the high cost and scarcity of housing the City has a very low percentage of housing units not suitable for rehabilitation (<1%).

According to the 1996 Special Census, there are 10,802 owner-occupied housing units with 54.5% of them constructed before 1970. Experience with our Housing Rehabilitation Program indicates that at approximately 25 years of age housing begins to deteriorate especially the major systems (i.e. furnace, roof, etc). A number of current applications for rehabilitation assistance have come from homeowners whose homes were built in the mid-1970s. Approximately 15,500 housing units (rental and owner-occupied) were built before many energy efficiency measures and codes went into effect around 1976. In order to save energy and therefore reduce costs for low- income homeowners, there are several organizations and a utility company that provide energy efficiency modification assistance. Energy conserving modifications include insulation, weather-stripping, energy efficient furnaces, window replacement, and other energy efficient measures and equipment.

The City’s Housing Rehabilitation Program has been active since the 1970s. The rehabilitation program has helped to maintain the affordable housing stock and prevent homes in need of repair from being lost. In addition, Elderly Services Agency (ESA) provides a small repair program for persons over age 62. This program has been performing approximately 65 repairs and modifications to units annually so that the homeowner can safely stay in their home. With the completion of its housing need assessment, Johnson County has recently completed the first stage towards the establishment of a countywide rehabilitation program.

Comparison to Housing Conditions for Iowa City as a Whole

Housing conditions throughout the community are generally good to excellent. There are very few structures where the housing is in extreme disrepair. The City has designated five neighborhood improvement areas, which are scattered throughout the older portion of the city.

Iowa City continues to steadily grow, although growth has tapered off somewhat from that experienced during the early to mid 1990s. There are several areas of new housing construction (west of Mormon Trek Boulevard, south of Highway 6 east of the Iowa River, and on the east side of town in the Scott Boulevard area). Housing conditions in these sections of town are excellent and are integrated well into the existing neighborhoods. Approximately 150 new single-family and 110 rental units received permits for construction in 1998.

Overall, the housing conditions of both rental units and owner-occupied units are very good. There are a few sites scattered throughout the community that need attention, most being fairly isolated. As stated above, the City has an active housing rehabilitation program that helps maintain the existing housing stock and prevent areas from becoming blighted.

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