Affordable Housing Programs Fuel a Thriving Economic Ecosystem

Posted February 13, 2024
Economic impacts of affordable housing in Iowa City - Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum

Alongside our community and economic development partners, Greater Iowa City, Inc. (Greater IC) has identified improving affordable housing as a key economic development priority. This priority spans across all our work, including efforts in advocacy, community development through the All In Vision plan, and business support of driving workforce attraction and retention. As a part of our commitment to moving the needle on this issue, Greater IC continues exploring innovative solutions and initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges of affordable housing. Our recent programming shed light on the multifaceted aspects of this issue and underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in tackling it.


In early February, Greater IC brought together local residential developers, home builders, and city officials and staff to discuss recent zoning code changes and incentive programs relevant to home builders and climate action goals. The panel, hosted by Greater IC and sponsored by the Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association, offered presentations from city staff members: Sarah Gardner, Climate Action Coordinator, and Anne Russett, Senior Planner. Attendees had the opportunity to delve into the recent changes and updates to zoning regulations aimed at tackling these affordability and supply challenges, various climate action strategies, and the role of incentives in promoting the development of affordable housing.

Program for Iowa City Home Builders and Developers
Sarah Gardner and Anne Russett present during a Lunch & Learn on Iowa City zoning code changes and incentive programs hosted by Greater Iowa City, Inc. on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, at MERGE Coworking in Iowa City, Iowa.


Highlighting affordability and workforce issues relating to affordable housing is a Legislative Priority for Greater IC this session. This spring, the first legislative forum focused on the economic impacts of affordable housing efforts. Held in January as part of a series of forums during the 2024 legislative session, the panel featured a diverse array of speakers, including Simon Andrew, Executive Director of The Housing Fellowship, Andy Hodge, Project Manager at Hodge Construction, and Anne Russett from the City of Iowa City. This forum facilitated an exchange of ideas between local experts and legislators, offering perspectives on policy discussions and initiatives aimed at addressing affordable housing issues. This platform for community engagement and education on public policy relating to affordable housing also fostered networking opportunities and promoted dialogue among stakeholders. It exhibited the collaborative spirit and growth mindset necessary for driving meaningful change in the realm of affordable housing.

Legislative Forum on Affordable Housing
Mackenzie DeRoo talks with panelists Simon Andrew, Anne Russett, and Andy Hodge during a legislative forum on The Economic Impacts of Affordable Housing hosted by Greater Iowa City, Inc. on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, at Urban Acres Real Estate in Coralville, Iowa.


These panels and events underscored the complexity of the affordable housing challenge while highlighting the collective efforts underway to address it. From policy discussions and legislative forums to practical insights from industry professionals, Greater IC’s events have catalyzed important conversations and laid the groundwork for continued action. As our region continues to grapple with the issue of affordable housing, it is imperative that stakeholders remain engaged, innovative, and committed to finding equitable solutions that benefit the entire community. Through collaboration and sustained effort, we can build a more inclusive future where housing is accessible to all and our entire economic ecosystem thrives.