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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 Association of Realtors

Housing Stats

The Iowa Association of Realtors provides a comprehensive overview of what's happening in Iowa's residential real estate market. Especially if your interest is in single family homes, you'll find useful data about prices, inventory, sales trends, and more.

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.

The Directors Council, 2017

One Economy Report

Learn about the economic and social disparities affecting Black Polk County.

PCHTF, 2022

2022 Guide to Area Median Income

One of the Trust Fund's most popular resources, this chart is updated annually to show how percentages of area median income (AMI) translate into real household incomes, and what rents are affordable to households earning different incomes.

Des Moines Area MPO

Des Moines Area MPO environmental justice maps

About one third of residents in Greater Des Moines live in a census tract identified as an environmental justice area as identified by the Des Moines Area MPO.

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.

Gruen & Associates, 2012

Tomorrow Plan Housing Report

National Low Income Housing Coalition

The Gap: 2022 State Housing Profile

Learn about our state's challenge supporting extremely low income renters.

Regional Planning Documents

Iowa Latinx Project

Nuestro Iowa (Our Iowa)

Nuestro Iowa examines data about Iowa's Latinx community. It provides an in-depth look at topics like housing, education, and more.

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.

Cities of Des Moines and West Des Moines

Regional Impediments to Fair Housing

Learn about barriers to equitable housing in our region, and strategies for reducing them.

Richmond, 2014

Affordable Housing & Wellness Planning for the Greater Des Moines of Tomorrow

Des Moines Area MPO

Housing Tomorrow

Housing Tomorrow is the region's comprehensive overview of affordable housing strategy.

czb, LLC, 2020

Regional Workforce Housing Strategy - Executive Summary

Research Commissioned by PCHTF

Virigina Center for Housing Research, 2019

Workforce Housing Study

Commissioned by PCHTF and local governments, this report looks at the types of jobs growing in Des Moines and creates a forecast for future housing demand based on increased jobs coming to the region.

Rongerude, 2013

Development of a Spacial Methodology for Assessing Affordable Housing In Polk County (Phase II)

PCHTF, 2012

Workforce Housing

Access to quality, affordable housing powers our region's economy.

PCHTF, 2012

Leveraging Location

This PCHTF white paper explores why location is key for success in developing affordable housing.

PCHTF/Christoper Martin, 2020

Predictors of Homelessness in Midwestern States 2020

PCHTF, 2016

The State of Low-Income Students in Polk County

Rongerude, 2012

Development of a Spacial Methodology for Assessing Affordable Housing In Polk County (Phase I)

PCHTF, 2012

Public Perceptions

This PCHTF white paper discusses the negative perceptions of affordable housing and how to overcome them.

PCHTF, 2012

Children and Affordable Housing

This PCHTF white paper explores how housing is essential to the success of young people.


CBRE Des Moines

Des Moines Metropolitan Area Marketview Multifamily reports

Get an overview of how the regional multifamily rental market is performing, including rent trends by Des Moines metro area sub-markets and information about what new properties are coming online in the market soon.

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2022

State of the Nation's Housing 2022

This annual report on national housing trends is always a must read.

Iowa Association of Realtors

Housing by the Numbers: Iowa Homeownership and Affordability Outlook

Provides a detailed look at the data surrounding affordability and the dream of homeownership for Iowa residents.

Up for Growth, 2022

Housing Underproduction in the US 2022

Housing markets in the Midwest have tipped into undersupply, bringing consequences previously reserved for coastal markets closer to home.

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