Housing issue still being focused on according to IEDA director

MASON CITY — The director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority says local and state leaders are continuing their efforts to solve the housing problem in the state.

Debi Durham says a few years ago, it was projected that Iowa needed 42,000 housing units by the year 2030. She says we’re making progress, but it’s harder to solve the problem of now needing about 25,000 housing units to meet that goal.  “We need single-family homes, and I would tell you we need them owner-occupied. If we’re concerned about our people being able to thrive, they need living wages, and if they are going to capture wealth, they need to be home owners. I’m not a believer that everybody should be a homeowner, that’s why we went through the debacle in 2008, but we’re saying we do need to prop up our neighborhoods, so that’s going to be harder. We’re going to have to do that with technology and taking old housing stock and flipping it like HGTV.”

Durham says many communities in the state, including Mason City, are using state-sponsored programs to boost the amount of market-rate housing in their towns.   “Tons of the programs that we have, and you use all of them here. The upper story housing, I love what’s happening on our main streets, the smallest communities like Cascade and Woodbine have these incredible upper-story living spaces that are market-rate. These aren’t subsidized that have waiting lists on them. Think what that does to that retail on the bottom floor that ebbs and flows through different economy cycles.”

Durham made her comments at the recent “State of North Iowa” event sponsored by the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. Her appearance at that event was our topic of focus on the “Ask the Mayor” program on KGLO earlier today. Listen back to today’s program via the audio player below