Affordable housing, rental regulations and alleviating homelessness will be addressed in an event at the ICPL

League of Women Voters Sunday Speaker Series: Affordable Housing

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A — Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m.

For rent sign — photo courtesy

Housing issues in Johnson County will be the subject of a panel discussion at the Iowa City Library on Sunday afternoon. The discussion will feature Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House, realtor and commercial real estate appraiser Casey Cook and Tracy Hightshoe, director of Neighborhood and Development Services for Iowa City.

Topics will include efforts to address homelessness in Johnson County. Shelter House, an Iowa City nonprofit that serves the needs of the homeless, is starting a major new phase on a project that uses the Housing First approach. Housing First prioritizes providing stable, long-term housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. The housing is intended to provide a secure platform that allows other problems to be dealt with.

This approach has been particularly successful in helping people experiencing chronic homelessness. In Utah, chronic homelessness decreased by 91 percent in the decade following the state’s adoption of Housing First.

Shelter House is constructing an apartment building in southeastern Iowa City as part of its Housing First program.

“In part, because of the very limited housing stock in Johnson County, and in Iowa City in particular, we determined we would build the units ourselves,” Canganelli told Little Village in November. “We purchased a site in October of 2016. It [will be] a two-story building, with 24 one-bedroom apartments and onsite office for case managers, and a clinic for behavioral and health issues.”

Construction on the building is scheduled to begin this spring.

The panel will also discuss the impact of Iowa City’s new regulation regarding the rental market. In December, the city council passed a regulation that caps the number of new rental permits for single family homes and duplexes at 30 percent of the housing stock in a neighborhood.

“What we’re looking to avoid is landlords just chopping up dining rooms, living rooms or any room to add more bedrooms to increase the occupancy,” Stan Laverman, senior housing inspector for Iowa City, told the Press-Citizen in December.

A 2016 report on trends in housing inequality in Iowa City noted that as “a college town, Iowa City has seen many of its core neighborhoods reshaped by rising demand for student housing near the campus and downtown area.” That focus on student housing, along with a demand for more suburban housing, has created a situation where there is “very little affordable housing is available for [Iowa City] low-income households.”

The two-hour panel discussion, which begins at 2 p.m., is the final event in this year’s League of Women Voters of Johnson County’s Sunday Speaker Series.

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