Iowa DOC Pushes for New Inmate Program that Would also Impact Low-Income Housing

 

July 18, 2018 08:45 PM

 

(ABC 6 News) - The Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) wants to start a new program that aims to keep inmates out of prison once they're released, while also increasing the amount of affordable housing across the state.

 

"With unemployment being at 2% or below, through the majority of north Iowa counties, it has created a severe housing shortage," North Iowa Area Council of Governments Executive Director Joe Myhre said.

 

Myhre said Iowa’s DOC proposed program could change that.

 

"The Iowa Prison Industry program is a program that would target rural communities; employees [have] to travel upwards of 50 to 60 miles in order to find adequate housing," Mhyre said.

 

Iowa DOC Pushes for New Inmate Program that Would also Impact Low-Income Housing

The DOC’s initiative would fill workforce holes, with inmates building a total of 100 low-income houses onsite at the prison, where they would be inspected and then shipped off to counties around Iowa.

 

"That seems like a lot of homes, but that would only amount to one home being delivered to each county,” Myhre said. “Today, we could probably take 10 homes per county based on the demand.”

 

Supporters say it would decrease the likelihood of inmates returning to prison while solving the low-income housing shortage.

 

Myhre said some agencies are against this idea because they don't agree with the government competing with private agencies.

 

"However, there are other builder groups out there that are supportive of it, saying they're not competing against local contractors because there's a void in meeting those lower workforce housing, affordable housing dwelling units," Myhre said.

 

"There are those fixed costs that need to be me, we estimate about $2 million would get the program off of the ground," Cord Overton with the Iowa Department of Corrections said.

 

Overton said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has stood behind the idea of this program.

 

"Last year, the governor included in her budget to the legislature a million dollars that would allow us to get the ball rolling," Overton said.

 

The Iowa Department of Corrections said the Iowa legislature ultimately turned down the program near the end of the last session.

 

However, that hasn't discouraged people from working to get it off the ground.

 

"Stay tuned, it's going to be on the forefront," Myhre said.

 

Wednesday Reynolds signed an executive order creating the "Empower Rural Iowa Initiative." Its goal is to improve access to quality housing in rural Iowa.

 

 

 

Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.
Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.
Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.
Iowa Association of Councils of Governments 400 East Court Ave, Suite 126 Des Moines, IA 50309 (515) 868-0133 staff@iarcog.com
The Iowa Association of Councils of Governments is the trade association for the 17 Councils of Governments (COGs) in Iowa.