MUSCATINE, Iowa–In helping Muscatine residents facing housing shortages, Muscatine Center for Social Action has long had an interest in bringing more affordable housing to the area. April 9, in partnership with First Presbyterian Church, they began their first single family home revitalization project. In time, they hope these early efforts will lead to a larger neighborhood revitalization project with broad community support.
Early in 2021, MCSA Board President and First Presbyterian Church member Paula Durham saw an opportunity for the two organizations to collaborate. Durham shared MCSA’s strategic plan goals with other church members, and they quickly saw they matched up with several community improvement ideas they had come up with themselves. From there, MCSA and First Presbyterian Church began meeting to discuss ways they could work together to address Muscatine’s workforce housing shortage. Together, they developed a plan to renovate a vacant property at 605 East Second Street, Muscatine, and to hold a matching fundraiser, dubbed Double Your Housing Dollars, to help finance it.
Beginning April 9 and 10, volunteers from First Presbyterian Church, with assistance from MCSA’s maintenance staff will completely remove all of the old flooring, trim, fixtures, and appliances from the home and begin work on the porch and back yard areas of the home as well. Following demolition work, volunteers will then repair and repaint the walls, install new flooring and fixtures, rework the porch to make it more useable and attractive, and grow fresh grass in the backyard, fully renovating the four bedroom property before selling it. “This house has good bones and so much potential, so we look forward to seeing the transformation,” enthused Resource Development Officer Jennifer Leirness. “It will be equipped to handle a large family, which is something that is more difficult to find in our area.”
To cover the costs of this first renovation, First Presbyterian Church offered to host a matching fundraiser. For each dollar donated to MCSA though the Double Your Housing Dollars campaign, First Presbyterian Church will match it, up to $30,000. MCSA continues to accept donations to this fund through their website and checks mailed to them at 312 Iowa Avenue Muscatine, Iowa, 52761. For those who would like to support the project by volunteering, they may do so by calling First Presbyterian Church at 563-263-2696.
With work beginning on the Sixth Street property, Leirness has great expectations for the projects success. “The need for quality workforce housing in our community is very evident, so this is a big step in the process of addressing that need,” she emphasized. “We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with First Presbyterian Church on this property to transform it from a vacant house into a quality, durable single-family home.”
Leirness also believes that showing the community how supporting just one revitalization project, MCSA can gain backing to continue renovating additional homes in the same neighborhood. “We see this first house as the catalyst for a larger neighborhood revitalization project, and plan to seek additional funding to be able to grow this project in the future,” she elaborated.