Client:  Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission

The Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission retained Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) to complete an assessment of Des Moines County Housing needs in Des Moines County, Iowa. The results of GG+A’s research and analysis summarized in an extensive report provided information on both existing and future housing needs and existing and likely future supply of housing in Des Moines County. The problems or deficiencies in meeting housing needs and the factors contributing to these problems or deficiencies were identified as were housing policy objectives and housing strategies to alleviate the identified problems. The report also provided the information needed to submit an application for the County to be designated as a “distressed” workforce housing community.

The report presents an analysis of demographic trends and conditions in Des Moines County including demographic and household characteristics, the jobs-housing balance, and household income and affordability. The report also presents an analysis of Des Moines County’s labor force, employment base composition and past trends, wage levels, and commuting patterns. The report summarizes the County’s current housing supply characteristics including number and type of units, age, value, tenure arrangement, and occupancy status. The report presents findings drawn from GG+A interviews with land developers, builders, and real estate brokers the residential sales and rental markets and about the potential for future residential development in Des Moines County including available land supply. In addition, the report presents population, household, and employment forecasts upon which an estimate of future housing need is made as well as an estimate of replacement demand. The report also presents the estimate of demand for housing by price and rent range (based on the income distribution of future households) and a quantitative comparison of the housing needs and housing supply in Des Moines County. The report also described an analysis of economic factors affecting residential development activity. Finally, the report provided the information needed to show that Des Moines County qualifies as a distressed community under the guidelines promulgated for Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program managed by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

To complete the analysis and report described above, GG+A toured residential developments and neighborhoods and areas within Des Moines County; conducted interviews with residential realtors, residential developers and builders, area employers, and city, county, and economic development officials; reviewed the comprehensive plan for Des Moines County and other background materials; estimated employment growth for Des Moines County in order to estimate the labor force increases upon which the need for additional housing is based; projected new households in Des Moines County based upon forecast employment growth; estimated replacement demand for new housing based upon estimated annual loss of housing stock; distributed forecast new households into income groups to estimate housing demand by price range; analyzed Des Moines County’s existing housing inventory including characteristics related to age, tenure, and vacancy of existing housing stock and sales and price trends; identified potential new supply of housing in Des Moines County, including projects under construction or planned and potential supply of land available to meet forecast housing needs; and compared forecast housing needs to the estimated present supply of housing to identify deficiencies in supply relative to needs by price range or affordability level.