Iowa City Fair Housing Study Completed


The Housing and Land Use Policy program recently completed a fair housing study for the City of Iowa City.   Formally called the “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing,” the study is required by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development for communities that receive funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs.  

The study used publicly available data such as the decennial census and the American Community Survey and lending information made available by requirements of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The research team also used information collected from two surveys of renters in Iowa City, as well as information provided by key stakeholders in focus group meetings and one-on-one interviews.   The stakeholders that provided input include representatives of local non-profits that work in the area of affordable housing and/or serve low-income populations, and key local government officials.  Two drafts of the report were made available to the public and feedback was incorporated into the final report. 

Two key findings of the study are:

  1. Racial concentration in Iowa City has increased over the last two decades.  From the report: 
    “In the last two decades, the level of racial segregation across the country has declined significantly. A recent report by the Manhattan Institute that analyzed segregation in the US using data from the last 13 US censuses, concluded that: "As of 2010, the separation of Blacks from individuals of other races stood at its lowest level in nearly a century.” The study also states that: "In 657 out of 658 housing markets tracked by the Census Bureau, segregation is now lower than the average level of segregation marked in 1970.” Some large Midwestern cities, such as Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis, experienced significant decreases in racial segregation between 2000 and 2010. Dramatic decreases in segregation occurred even in Iowa. For example, Waterloo, the most segregated city in the state in 1970 with a Black - Non -Black IoD score of 87.5 in 1970, saw its 2010 IoD score drop to 61.6 by 2010.  Against this backdrop of decreasing racial segregation nationwide, the high Black -White IoD score in Iowa City in 2010 and its increasing trend over the past two decades stand out in stark contrast.”
  2. The City’s Affordable Housing Location model reduces the supply of new assisted rental housing. 

Two key recommendations of the study are: 

  1. The City should adopt a mandatory inclusionary zoning policy for all new ownership and rental housing developments in order to lower spatial concentrations of minorities.
    “ . . .  Iowa City adopt a mandatory inclusionary zoning policy that would apply to all new ownership and rental housing development. While the generally understood benefit of a mandatory inclusionary zoning policy is an increase in the number of reasonably-priced owner and rental units that families with incomes below 80% AMI can afford, an equally important but less well-recognized benefit is the scattered locations at which these new housing units get built.  This would create housing units for low and moderate income minority families at diverse locations in the City without using any public subsidies or taxes.”
  2. To provide land or cash supplements to offset the problems caused by the Affordable Housing Location Model.
    “For projects that require compliance with the Affordable Housing Location Model, the City should provide land in locations permitted by this model at prices comparable to land at locations not permitted by this model. Alternatively, the City could provide cash supplements from non-CDBG/HOME sources that offset land cost differentials to such projects.”

The complete study is available here.