Cedar Rapids flood-recovery homebuilding program to add 200 more homes

City has received budget authority from the state for $11.1 million in funding

Rick Smith
Published: January 24 2014 | 3:30 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:37 am in

An attractive flood-recovery opportunity to buy a newly built home in Cedar Rapids is still looking for income-qualified participants as the city prepares to expand the program by 200 new homes.

The new-home construction program is designed to provide "work force" affordable housing to replace housing units lost in the 2008 flood.

The city calls the program ROOTs — Rebuilding Ownership Opportunities Together.

This week, the City Council’s Development Committee endorsed the city’s plan to seek a fourth round of federal flood-recovery funding in the amount of $11.13 million through the Iowa Economic Development Authority to continue and expand the ROOTs program.

The funds are used to provide incentives to income-qualified homebuyers of up to 25 percent of the cost of the home and to provide incentives to developers of up to $12,000 to cover infrastructure costs and to provide a developer’s fee not to exceed 15-percent of a project’s development costs.

To date, in the first three rounds of the program funding, the city has seen the building of 528 new residential units, most of which have been stand-alone homes, with developers building or committed to building another 100 homes.

In total in the first three rounds of funding, the 628 residential units will have used $32.5 million in federal funding to go with $69.1 million in private investment adding to a total housing investment of $101.6 million.

The first round of flood-recovery funding for new home construction arrived in the city as the city’s flood-recovery buyout program was still beginning. Most of the first 182 residential units were built in existing housing developments on the edge of the city.

However, the City Council has insisted more recently that the building take place in the city’s core neighborhoods, and much of the building has taken place on vacant lots where flood-damaged homes were bought out and demolished.

Caleb Mason, housing redevelopment analyst in the city’s Community Development Department, said this week that the city expects the start this spring of home building with fourth-round funding even as home building with third-round funding continues.

In the new, fourth round of the program, Mason said the city has received budget authority from the state of Iowa for the $11.1 million in funding support to build 200 or more new homes.

To date, a City Hall review committee for the ROOTs program has approved 25 developers and their plans to build 69 residential units in the core area of the city with fourth-round funding. The City Council will decide this summer on the use of remaining funds.

According to a Community Development Department memorandum to the City Council, a housing market study conducted by the city in the summer of 2013 found that the demand for new and existing houses "remains strong" in the city and that median and average sale prices of existing homes has increased.

For information about ROOTs go to: http://www.cedar-rapids.org/government/departments/community-development/housing/ROOTs/Documents/FAQs%202013.pdf

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