Iowa City Housing Information

Housing & Homeless Needs Assesment:
Supportive Housing Needs of Non Homeless Special Needs Populations


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
a. Elderly & Frail Elderly b. Persons with Disabilities c. Persons with HIV/AIDS and their Families d. Public Housing Residents


Population Demographics and Supportive Housing Needs

a. Elderly and Frail Elderly

Table II.7: Age Distribution of Elderly in Johnson County



Percentage of elderly population


























(Source: 1996 Census)

The data compiled above show that more than 28% of the elderly population is over age 75. People 75 years of age and over are considered to be "frail elderly." As technology and lifestyle improvements extend the life expectancy and quality of life for persons in their senior years, the community needs to plan for housing that assists them. Already, the percentage of the elderly population represented by the "frail elderly" has risen by more than 3% since the 1990 Census. This trend is likely to continue, and Iowa City has responded with several new elderly housing developments being planned and constructed in 1999-2000.

According to a 1994 study conducted by the Ecumenical Housing Corporation and the Elderly Services Agency (ESA); there is a substantial interest in congregate housing within the elderly community. The median income of those who responded positively to congregate housing was $18,300 (1994 dollars). This indicates a likely need for rent subsidies of some type for those low-income residents. The most preferred types of congregate housing were mini-complexes and retirement residences. Both of these arrangements could provide graduated levels of independent living and supportive care environments. The study estimates that 1,176 individuals age 60 and over would be interested in congregate housing.

Additional supportive housing needs for the elderly are related to maintaining individuals in their homes including maintenance, housing rehabilitation, in-home support services, at-home nursing care. For additional information on elderly demographics and needs see sections II.B.1.c. and II.B.2.

b. Persons with Disabilities

As providers of services to this population prepare for the eventuality of managed health care, the need to provide services in independent, supported-living environments will continue to increase. Therefore, the availability of affordable, accessible, and adaptable housing becomes a primary housing need for these individuals. Supplying affordable housing is not enough. Support services must be available when they are needed to serve these populations effectively.

It is unrealistic to expect that every consumer with special needs will be best served in an independent living environment. There are some consumers who will continue to need higher levels of support and supervision. The trend in the size of group living facilities to serve this population segment is toward smaller facilities. While this may be an ideal, it is also considerably more expensive.

The perceived stigma that attaches to individuals labeled as having mental illness or disabilities has deterred providers from estimating the total number of persons with disabilities in the community. Service providers traditionally rely on an extrapolation of national estimates with a slight increase. Providers believe that the social climate, presence of the University of Iowa, the University Hospital and Clinics and the VA Hospital raise the number of persons with disabilities in our community beyond national averages.

(1) Mental Illness

A continuum of supportive housing options needs to be available to persons with mental illness. Currently Iowa City has 5 beds of transitional housing, nine beds of transitional/permanent housing, and 114 beds of supervised, residential care housing for persons with mental illness. An additional 100 individuals are served through independent living programs.

The largest gap in the current system is found in provision of supportive housing for persons returning from mental health institutions. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics estimate that as many as 30 individuals could benefit from housing and support in this setting at any given time.

A smaller gap in the continuum is in long-term, highly supervised care environments. While most providers feel there is some need for such facilities, the need is seen to be for a small population, fewer than 10 individuals at any given time. The Alliance for the Mental Ill (AMI) maintains that a need exists for highly supervised and supportive, long-term housing for persons with mental illness. The Johnson County Department of Human Services (DHS) believes even these individuals may not need "permanent" housing in this environment, but regular review and encouragement toward independent, supported living.

Anecdotal evidence from both Johnson County's Department of Human Services and Hillcrest Family Services indicates that the need for highly-supervised care facilities decreases as the level and availability of supportive services increases within the community.

(2) Physical Disability

Demographic information provided by Evert Conner Center for Independent Living, Inc. based on the 1990 Census shows that 6,760 individuals in Johnson County have some form of physical disability; 3,821 have a mobility limitation and 2,939 have a self-care limitation. No other study has been done since the 1990 Census and no further study will be done until the 2000 Census. As of July 1999, the director of Evert Conner Center for Independent Living, Inc. informed the City that the norm is 10% of a population will have some sort of disability. This means 6,015 persons in Johnson County may have some sort of disability. However, this norm represents a range of disabilities and cannot be broken down into disability types.

The trend in services and housing for persons with physical disabilities is toward independent living with support services, or when necessary small group living environments. For this population independent living needs include accessibility, affordability, and supportive services for accessing community resources and teaching living skills.

(3) Developmental Disability

There are currently two providers of care for persons with developmental disabilities, Systems Unlimited and REM-Coralville. Systems Unlimited provides care to approximately 160 children and adults in-group living environments throughout the community. REM-Coralville provides long-term care to eight individuals in a highly supervised environment.

Providers to persons with developmental disabilities are focusing their efforts on the need for smaller care environments (2-3 individuals/unit) with supportive personnel and services in residence. Systems Unlimited anticipates a need for approximately three of these small units annually with a decreasing demand for larger facility care. These smaller units could be either new construction or rehabilitation of existing homes.

(4) Alcohol and Drug Addiction

According to the providers to persons with alcohol and drug addiction, including Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse (MECCA), the trend is to provide small supportive housing environments or to provide transitional, independent living facilities throughout the community with supportive services included.

c. Persons with HIV/AIDS and Their Families

To address the needs of persons who have tested positive for HIV or have AIDS, the Iowa Center for AIDS Resources and Education (ICARE) conducted a survey entitled "Housing and Care Needs for HIV+ Populations in Iowa" in 1993. As of July 1999 the Executive Director of ICARE confirmed that the findings of the 1993 study were still an accurate representation of the barriers and problems confronting persons with HIV/AIDS.

The survey was designed to examine housing and service needs that individuals with HIV or AIDS are experiencing. Because the survey reached only those who are part of the existing service network, the survey may have under-represented the diversity and needs of the HIV/AIDS populations in Iowa.

The responses indicated that there was a "continuum of housing needs." Immediate needs included assistance and/or a service network to help HIV positive individuals stay in their current living situations and to enable them to live wherever they choose. Another need identified was emergency overnight housing; because the Emergency Housing Project is limited to overnight shelter, individuals who are facing an "emergency situation" are not able to live there during the day. Though this need is not unique to the HIV/AIDS population, it is possible that such situations are more likely to affect them. The biggest "gaps" in this housing continuum were "intermediate" housing for independent living and supportive or assisted living situations. The provision of full-time programming and hospice-type care for individuals in the non-terminal stages of AIDS were identified as specific concerns.

d. Public Housing Residents

The Iowa City Housing Authority provides 37 units that are accessible to persons with disabilities. Currently all of the ICHA’s accessible units are occupied.

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