Local partners receive Iowa HOME Grant for 3D printed houses
by Margaret Hurlbert
December 06, 2022

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Since 2021, the City of Muscatine, Muscatine County, and many community partners, including the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, Muscatine Center for Social Action, and Muscatine Community College, have worked together to bring their shared countywide housing plan to fruition, increasing the amount of all kinds of housing available to encourage people who work in Muscatine County to live there and to provide greater housing stability for people in all income brackets. As part of these efforts, Muscatine Center for Social Action, in cooperation with the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, received an Iowa HOME Grant worth $1,809,000 to put towards 3D printing six single family homes.

Throughout the year, community partners, including the Muscatine Center for Social Action and the Community Foundation, have worked with the Iowa Economic Authority to revitalize the Mulberry corridor entering downtown Muscatine. Part of the revitalization involves creating or rehabilitating single family homes to for owner occupants, as rental property makes up 79% of the property in the area. Additionally, the area houses the largest percentage of Muscatine Community School District students.

The Iowa HOME Grant will allow for the building of six three bedroom two bathroom single family homes. Once completed, Muscatine Center for Social Action and its partners will work to sell the homes, giving preference to first time homebuyers who either teach at a local elementary school or earn at or below 80% of the area median income. Currently, about 30% of Muscatine Community School District teachers commute. Students who receive free or reduced lunch change schools three to four times more often than their classmates who do not, due to the high cost of rental housing. Creating more affordable housing options will help make it possible for more teachers to live in Muscatine and for lower income families to find stable housing.

Alquist, a company that has 3D printed two house in Virginia, will 3D print the main structure of the houses out of concrete. Though 3D printed homes have existed for some time, Muscatine will have some of the first in the state. Then, a local contractor will complete the finishing work, making the houses fully ready for their first owners to move into. All of the money that comes in from the sale of the six homes will go towards future housing initiatives.

A 3D printed house having the finishing work completed. Photo courtesy the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine and the Muscatine Center for Social Action.

As an additional benefit, students from Muscatine Community College’s construction program, which will start enrolling students in 2023, will get to visit the 3D printed houses during construction, learning first hand about this construction method, which emerging research has show to lower the cost of construction and home ownership in some instances. Students in the industrial hemp production program will also get to research how adding hemp products to concrete mixes can make them more sustainable.

An innovative collaboration, Scott Dalke, Executive Director of the Muscatine Center for Social Action, and Charla Schafer, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, both feel excited about the new chapter this grant will open.

“Housing is vital for economic development, and Muscatine has a housing stock shortage that is having serious effects on the community. The proposed project will add much needed single family units in our community,” emphasized Dahlke.

“This grant will make an immediate impact on our community,” added Schafer. “It also allows us to integrate a new technology into the housing development portfolio of tools.”

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