Housing is holding back Iowa's workforce

Updated: Oct 31

The struggle to afford housing is a fact of life for the working poor in every community across Greater Des Moines.


Yet solutions are available to keep opportunity in reach. A local initiative called Here We Grow is helping share what works.


It’s a paradox: Communities people flock to for their prosperity are often places where it's more difficult to live on an hourly wage.


Business leaders have noticed. A recent statewide survey published by the Business Record shows 62% of business and economic development leaders in Iowa think the state needs to change how we think about housing to get ahead.


It’s happening here too. This map shows how many renters earning under $50,000 are struggling to afford the rent in each metro city.

Unfortunately, those struggling include many of the essential workers in our community, including child care workers, home health aides, retail salespersons, teaching assistants and others. One recent study found that there are over 41,000 workers in our 5-county region who can't afford to live on their own, even when earning in the 90th percentile for their occupation.


Through the Here We Grow effort, a Capital Crossroads initiative, the Polk County Housing Trust Fund is helping foster a regional conversation about new solutions.


And there’s reason for optimism. Here's just some of the good news we summarized in our annual report that dropped yesterday.

We’re working to continue to build momentum for workforce housing solutions the region needs. Sign up to stay informed about our work.