What is Workforce Housing?

It might surprise you.

In 2006 the forecasters were falling all over each other predicting a workforce shortage in Iowa that would seriously inhibit robust economic growth.  That prediction fell down the ranks of importance during the recession.  As Iowa recovers and the employment picture returns to a new normal, forecasters are again making headlines predicting a shortage of skilled workers.  A similar prediction can be made concerning the shortage of safe, stable and affordable workforce housing.

Today, expectations are that the largest gap will be for folks with special skills.  This is a worker with a basic foundational education and a graduate of a one or two year training program focused on performing a special job.  Many of these types of jobs already exist.  The prediction is that there will be many more of them and that Iowa will need to make sure its homegrown workforce is properly prepared as well as to recruit qualified workers from elsewhere.

As these jobs are created and workers found, the community needs to be prepared to offer appropriate workforce housing or risk having business expand or locate elsewhere.  Recognizing that these positions will initially pay something less than the median income in Polk County is the first step toward meeting the housing need.  The chart linked below clearly shows where the community should be focused.  Many of our newly forming households of workers will fall in the 60–80% of median income range.  For example, a skilled single parent of two earning an annual salary of $41,000.00 makes 60% of area median income and should be spending no more than $1025.00 per month for housing.

There will need to be housing options available to fill this need.  It is the responsibility of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund to address this coming gap in workforce housing.  By marshalling community resources around a strategic plan to eliminate gaps in affordable housing inventory the PCHTF is a partner with the community in securing the continued economic growth and well being of metro Des Moines.

2012 HUD Data