Housing Policy Reading Room
Find a collection of useful reports and data about the need for affordable housing in Polk County, Iowa.
Jump down to review local housing data, regional planning documents, research PCHTF has commissioned, and other housing reports.
Local Housing Data
National Low Income Housing Coalition
Out of Reach
Updated annually, the headline number from Out of Reach is always the estimate of the hourly wage a person needs to earn in order to afford a modest 2 bedroom apartment. This year, for Iowa as a whole, it's $16.55/hour.
But the data in this report goes deeper-our state profile allows you to see which common occupations in Iowa earn enough to comfortably afford housing, and which dont. The upshot? Tens of thousands of jobs in Iowa do not support finding a place to live without financial strain.
Iowa Finance Authority/Western Economic Services
The Iowa Profile
The Iowa Profile is one of the most comprehensive resources for housing data imagineable for Iowa communities. We often say if someone recommends your community take on a housing study, you might find The Iowa Profile has already done the work for you.
Provided by our state's housing finance agency, the Iowa Finance Authority, this resource contains extremely detailed housing data for the state as a whole as well as every county and a huge number of Iowa cities. While we appreciate the interactive data viewer, through the "reports" section of the profile's website, it is possible to download a more traditional PDF report view of the data that might be more accessible for some users. (Although be advised: The file sizes can be very large.)
National Housing Conference
Paycheck to Paycheck
We frequently rely on this database as a way of showing whether the income people and families earn at their jobs is sufficient to afford the rent in our community. Using Paycheck to Paycheck you can search among almost 150 different occupations to see what type of housing typical wages will support.
Common Good Iowa
The Cost of Living in Iowa 2022
The Cost of Living in Iowa report is similar to the MIT Living Wage Calculator but is produced by an Iowa-based nonprofit, Common Good Iowa. An advantage this report has over others, however, is its estimate of the tax burden and benefits Iowa families would receive.
National Equity Atlas
In housing, it is essential to "disaggregate the data," splitting apart common housing indicators to see disparities that exist in our community according to race and ethnicity, among other factors. The National Equity Atlas is billed as "America's most detailed report card on racial and economic equity." It contains searchable indicators on a variety of factors related to the economic inclusion of communities of color - and much more.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT Living Wage Calculator
MIT uses data about typical household expenses in an area to calculate a living wage - the amount of money a person needs to earn to fully support his or herself and their family. Calculations are available for counties, metro areas, or states. You are able to see a variety of houeshold configurations, such as how the situation changes for a single adult living alone, versus a single parent or dual-income earning household.
Regional Planning Documents
Des Moines Area MPO
The Tomorrow Plan
The Tomorrow Plan is "the one that started it all" for a generation of planning and urban design-focused community members in Greater Des Moines. The plan took a sustainability focused approach to envisioning how the region will change as its population nears one million people.