The City of Council Bluffs announces a new Housing Development Program with generous funding from the Iowa West Foundation (IWF). The program aims to address the critical need for housing in Council Bluffs and commits to accelerating housing construction, targeting the creation of 1,300 new residential units over the next decade.
The Housing Development Program will prioritize affordability and variety in Council Bluffs housing options. Recognizing the need for a range of housing types to accommodate various income levels and household sizes, the program encourages the development of multi-family units and missing-middle housing. The program seeks to leverage resources effectively and maximize its impact on the community by fostering collaboration between public and private stakeholders. Through targeted investments and strategic planning, the Housing Development Program represents the City’s dedication to housing as not only a necessity but a fundamental cornerstone of a thriving, resilient community.
“Since 1996, the Iowa West Foundation has been deeply invested in addressing housing needs in Council Bluffs,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President and CEO of Iowa West Foundation. “Recent community conversations, notably the Imagine Hour events hosted by IWF in 2022, underscored lack of housing as a pressing community concern. That makes housing construction a key priority for us.”
The City’s new Housing Development Program marks a significant expansion in scope and scale with the intent of expediting housing construction through targeted investments in acquisition, infrastructure development, and incentives for developers.
“Through strategic partnerships with the Iowa West Foundation and utilizing other local and state funding sources, this program will increase our housing stock, stimulate economic growth, and improve the quality of life for our residents," said Courtney Harter, City of Council Bluffs Community Development Director. “While the Housing Development Program won't solve all of our housing needs, it will play a crucial role in addressing current needs and paving the way for future growth.”
IWF has committed up to $4 million to match other funding to the program, which extends through December 31, 2033. The City matches this grant with $2 million in its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The Housing Development Program is the second housing investment the City has supported with ARPA funding. In 2023, the City purchased 93 acres adjacent to East Manawa to create a new mixed-income housing development.
The Housing Development Program is city-wide with specific priority areas, including East Manawa, First Ave, River’s Edge, and Dodge Park. The City of Council Bluffs will administer the program and use funds to cover costs associated with acquisition, early architectural and engineering plans, infrastructure development, and incentives to housing developers. The City will continue its current programs, such as HOME Investment Partnership Program, Community Development Block Grant, tax increment financing, and tax exemptions to supplement these dollars. To further extend the ten-year program, the City will reinvest uncommitted dollars generated from the program (e.g., lot sales).
As an incentive to assist in the project development, the City may provide grants to prospective multi-family and missing-middle housing developers. Interested developers can submit an application to the City’s Community Development Department. Applications open on February 1 and will be accepted on an ongoing basis. Additional information on the City of Council Bluffs housing programs can be found online at councilbluffs-ia.gov/151/Housing-Programs.
"Addressing our community's housing needs requires a collaborative effort between public and private sectors, and we are grateful to our partners at the Iowa West Foundation for their generous commitment,” said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. “When public and private organizations come together, we can achieve remarkable progress.”