Though wages have increased, household incomes across the Quad-Cities have not kept pace with increasing rental costs, creating a housing crisis impacting more than 11,000 residents unable to reasonably afford a roof over their head.
"The appearance of an international pandemic has really laid bare some of the inequities around (affordable housing)," Scott Housing Council Director Leslie G. Kilgannon said. "We need to now address the critical issue of individuals and families being displaced or, really, threatened to be displaced because of the current economic and health crisis."
Quad Cities Housing Cluster unveiled a 10-year plan Friday to create more than 6,600 affordable housing units through a combination of new construction; rehabilitation of vacant, abandoned or dilapidated properties; and increased rental subsidies for the homeless, working poor, elderly, disabled and those out of work.
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Cluster members met virtually Friday to discuss their vision and strategies for addressing long-term affordable housing needs through the Quad-Cities by 2030.
The outline, which seeks to fill gaps in existing affordable housing efforts and services — from emergency shelter operations to construction of new single-family homes — calls for annual funding increases to the Local Housing Trust Fund to provide up to $1 million annually to pay for new housing initiatives on both sides of the Mississippi River.
"We need to step it up ... and really address these longstanding issues in a more systemic way," Kilgannon said. "This is going to require investment from other stakeholders."
Strategies outlined by the Housing Cluster, a consortium of for-profit and nonprofit housing service provides, lenders and developers across the Quad-Cities, include:
- addressing a gap of 6,645 affordable units for extremely low-income households earning 30% or less of area median income, or no more than $21,810 annually.ing
"This could mean collaborating with developers to build tiny homes, multiple-family units, or funding community land trusts," cluster member and Moline Council Member Sam Moyer said. "There is tremendous societal and economic benefits to providing such housing."
- maintaining, improving or rehabilitating 95% of existing affordable units to ensure availability and quality
"There needs to be a mix of capital, tax credits and inclusionary zoning that removes impediments to repurposing these buildings," Moyer said. "When we lose affordable housing, we displace families. We disrupt education. It impacts service delivery. It can impact crime rates, homelessness and employment. By investing in the maintenance of our affordable housing stock, we can impact real lives in our community."
- coordinating housing services to reduce eviction rates through increased availability and accessibility of rental assistance programs and provide mediation to resolve landlord-tenant disputes
- providing wrap-around services that help individuals and families stay in their homes
- increasing funding available through the Local Housing Trust Fund, be it through the sale of bonds, raising taxes, donations and grant funding
- engaging community partners, program participants, residents and private developers and lenders to foster dialogue on ways to address housing needs
Wages in the Quad-Cities increased nearly 16% from 2010 to 2019, while rental costs in Scott and Rock Island counties increased nearly 22% and nearly 24%, respectively, according to U.S. Census data.
And since 2010, the area has lost 30.5% of fair-market units, either because of increasing rents or having closed or become dilapidated, according to the Housing Cluster.
More than 15,400 Q-C households, or about 12% of all Quad-City households, live in extreme poverty. Of those households, 76% are cost-burdened, spending 30% or more of their annual income on housing.
A single adult working full time and making $9 an hour could afford $468 a month for a one-bedroom apartment without being cost-burdened, compared to fair market for a one-bedroom in the Quad Cities of $648, according to Kilgannon.
Housing Cluster subcommittees will work to develop concrete steps and timelines to address gaps and racial disparities in housing services and raise funds, with the goal of seeing some changes within the next two years.
"We all know it's going to be extremely hard to accomplish, but we must try," said Housing Cluster member Rick Schloemer of IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union. "The return on our investment will be significant in more self-sufficiency, less reliance on assistance, more stable families — which leads to better students, better workforce and a healthier and stronger community."