MUSCATINE, Iowa–March 23, the City of Muscatine, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Kent Corporation, and Muscatine County partnered for the first time to host a summit focused on housing needs in the region. The event looked at the issues facing the community and how community leaders can begin to address them.
After a brief welcome from Muscatine County Supervisors Chair Santos Saucedo, Jodi Royal Goodwin centered the discussion around the housing issues the city and county face. Royal Goodwin addressed the difficulties that people who cannot find affordable housing face and how previous studies have revealed the number of people who commute to jobs in Muscatine because their hourly wages of $12 per hour or fewer make it difficult for them to afford local rent or mortgages.
Royal Goodwin continued on to look at what affordable housing means for the city. According to Royal Goodwin, the market value of rent in Muscatine comes in significantly higher than communities of similar size around the state as well as the state average, approximately 94% higher. Looking at housing prices, Royal Goodwin also highlighted that a low number of houses on the market and their comparatively high cost compared to average local salaries across professions make it difficult for young professionals and established individual looking to move from renting to owning a home successfully. Making sure the county has enough housing available, it stimulates local economic growth in a wide variety of ways. Charla Schafer, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, and Erik Reader, President and CEO of the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also took time to break down each of these issues and see how they affect working families across the region.
Saucedo then returned to the stage to drive home the importance of working together and with Mike Gould and Debi Durham of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority on future projects. As he put it, “part of what we are fighting for and working for is to get this group together and to work on how can we sew the seeds of creating more housing.” He went on to say, “If we don’t change, we won’t see any improvement on this issue; we can make change, and this is the group to do it.”
Gould, a former director of the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Muscatine resident who now serves as the Manager of Business Development and Insurance Development for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, pledged his support in providing business development supports to the community through partnering with the Chamber and other organizations. Finally, Director of the Iowa Finance Authority finished by speaking on the need to synergize on business, individual, and community needs to make the area a place people want to live, and the importance of providing targeted tax credits, whole neighborhood revitalization incentives, and providing financial aid following natural disasters more quickly, which she said have seen some legislative success so far this legislative session and in other projects led by the Finance Authority.