A place to call home: Homes for Iowa house arrives

MUSCATINE, IOWA–At the corners of Spring and Seventh Streets, neighbors gathered in the late September heat to watch the Community Foundation’s Homes for Iowa House arrive at its final destination. Though it only took Goodwin House Moving a little over an hour to prepare the house for setting the following day, its delivery represents the culmination of a project almost two years in the making.

Early in 2020, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine started exploring their options for bringing affordable workforce housing to Muscatine. Several of their staff members visited Homes for Iowa, a program at the Newton Correctional Facility that trains inmates in several skilled trades and provides moderately priced homes for communities across Iowa. Impressed, the Community Foundation started working toward bringing their first Homes for Iowa home to the community.

Eager to bring a house to Muscatine, the Community Foundation started seeking out a lot to place it on. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed their search down. Early this year, the Community Foundation considered placing the house on a lot between Bond and Taylor declared surplus by the City of Muscatine. However, they found it did not quite suit their needs, and they resumed their search once again.

Later in the year, the city acquired a house deemed unsafe that the owners wanted demolished. July 15, the Muscatine City Council voted to declare the lot left over surplus and to donate it to the Community Foundation.

Once the Community Foundation acquired the land, they set to work clearing it and preparing it for Todd Hackett Construction to build a crawl space. “Hackett Construction on a very quick turnaround, has been about to pull it together for us,” said Schafer.

Meanwhile, Homes for Iowa created the, 1,200 square-foot, one story, three bedroom, two bathroom house under the direction of master artisans. An almost completely finished house, complete with wooden kitchen cabinets created by prisoners in Mount Pleasant learning cabinetry, the Community Foundation will only need to provide the flooring and appliances for the house. To finish it completely, they will also have a sidewalk and parking pad poured, build a shed, replant the lawns with grass, and plant a large tree to replace the ones they had to cut down to place the lot. In the future, if the homeowners want, they have the capacity to add a two car garage to the property as well.

As the Homes for Iowa Home completed the final leg of its journey, many in the community hailed its arrival. A support of Homes for Iowa since the program first started, based on a similar operation in South Dakota, Mark Lofgren welcomed its arrival. “It’s great,” he enthused. Back five years ago, we went to South Dakota twice, and it’s exciting to see it come to fruition.”

Director of Community Development Jody Royal-Goodwin shared his excitement. “I think it’s very exciting,” she shared: “Just like that, we have a new unit of housing. It’s a beautiful house.”

Once the home and lot receive their finishing touches, the Community Foundation will open the application process for prospective buyers. First time homebuyers who meet several criteria will have the opportunity to possibly make this very special house their home.