MUSCATINE, Iowa–Since February of 2020, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine has worked to bring the first of several workforce housing units to Muscatine. Almost exactly a year later, the Muscatine City Council approved a request to donate a surplus parcel of land off the alley between Bond and Taylor Streets, northwest of Evans Street, to the Community Foundation to allow them to begin this project.
Early in 2020, members from the Community Foundation toured Homes for Iowa, a non-profit organization that provides apprenticeships to inmates at the Newton Correctional Facility and in turn sells the homes they build at an affordable price to people all across the state. Each home comes with an air conditioner, furnace, plumbing, and fixtures already installed. Buyers simply add flooring and their choice of appliances before moving in.
Impressed with the quality of their homes and the track record the program has for reducing recidivism, the Community Foundation planned to work with them to begin building affordable units of workforce housing. “It’s ready when it arrives here and it meets the highest code in the state,” emphasized Community Foundation Executive Director Charla Schafer.
Just as the Community Foundation began looking for a location to put their first single family unit of workforce housing in mid March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Iowa in earnest, significantly delaying their work. Determined to push forward, they continued working with the City of Muscatine to identify a suitable site. They sought a location that would prove appealing to families and that would accommodate the delivery of the home. Homes for Iowa prefabricates all their homes at their location in Newton and then delivers them by truck to their final destination.
The unused lot between Taylor and Bond Streets proved a good spot. Within walking distance of both Franklin Elementary School and Taylor Park and in an established residential neighborhood, it will appeal to many families, especially those with younger children. It will also have space for the Community Foundation to add a garage.
Now that the Community Foundation has secured the parcel, they look forward to working with Homes for Iowa to get a house delivered. Currently, they expect the house to come this summer and for its new owners to move in not long afterwards. Though they have not finalized the application process for the home yet, the Community Foundation hopes to have the form available for perspective buyers by April.
Reflecting on the progress the project has made so far and its potential to positively impact the community in the future, Schafer stated, ” I’m pleased with the leadership our Community Foundation board has taken to identify a need and has found a way to help provide homeownership for families and to support the state initiative for prison industries training.”
In the future, the Community Foundation would like to keep working with Homes for Iowa to bring additional units of affordable workforce housing to the area. Along with partnering with the City of Muscatine on additional projects, the Community Foundation also hopes to work with other cities in the region to bring similar opportunities to them too.