Britney Samuelson has the floor

'Here We Grow' initiative leads effort to increase workforce housing

Britney Samuelson has the floor

This month, Capital Crossroads launched Housing Tomorrow: Here We Grow, an initiative to build regional collaboration, data and knowledge sharing on workforce housing in Central Iowa. We believe that this work is critical to the future success and growth of our region and the data agrees. Our region is projected to add 150,000 new jobs, generating 84,000 new households, by 2038. These jobs will not be high-paying, though. The largest share of net new working households will have incomes between $25,000 and $49,999, and over 75% of all new projected households will not be able to afford new construction.

Central Iowa has an opportunity to prepare for the future jobs and businesses that will call our region home by making sure that their workforce is housed and has access to all of the amenities that make DSM USA a great place to live. There are three simple goals that we are encouraging all communities in the region to consider when making decisions regarding housing and economic development:

  1. Housing should be near jobs;
  2. The housing mix should reflect the job mix; and
  3. Housing opportunities should be equitable to avoid segregation created by the market

These goals are broad because we recognize that each community is different and the challenges and opportunities that each face will be unique. However, by using these goals as a guide to decision-making and creating innovative strategies, communities will make great strides towards improving housing availability, affordability, and equity. This is what our region needs to attract and retain our future workforce and become even more competitive for the jobs of tomorrow.

We look forward to having conversations with each community to support them as they start thinking big about workforce housing and how it fits into their future plans. We will also be working on bringing communities together for discussions about shared ideas and challenges, so that we all can learn from each other as we implement these shared goals.

Capital Crossroads is the strategic vision plan for Central Iowa and the DSM USA region that pushes us to think big, not settle, think long-term, and work together. This initiative is based on three guiding principles: talent drives success, high-value opportunities must be captured, and sustainable growth is essential. At the intersection of these three values is workforce housing. 

Since its launch in 2012, Capital Crossroads has taken pride in its ability to convene communities for collaboration that will build a stronger and more cohesive region, and we see workforce housing as the next big opportunity for our region to seize. We know that each community’s strategy is going to look different, but what if the goals we share are the same? This is the fundamental philosophy that underscores Housing Tomorrow: Here We Grow and it is what we are eager to work with cities to achieve. 

Britney Samuelson is the director of Capital Crossroads. Find more information about Housing Tomorrow: Here We Grow at HereWeGrow.city.