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Waukee seeks developer for workforce housing less than a mile from new high school

The City of Waukee has taken action to advance housing opportunity by approving a Request for Proposals (RFP) to turn over 13.6 acres of city-owned land for development as a housing tax credit community. The property is located in Waukee's Prairie Rose subdivision - a location less than a mile east of Northwest High School. When developed, this housing will help address a shortage of workforce housing in Waukee.

In an interview with the Des Moines Business Record, Waukee mayor Courtney Clarke said, "Land prices are not getting any cheaper and development costs are not going down," she said. "New homes in Waukee are not being built for under certain levels. … There are people who work in Waukee that cannot live in Waukee – Waukee teachers, people in our fire department, people who work in our grocery stores."

The area available for development is highlighted with the red dotted line on the right of this image. (Source: City of Waukee)

Indeed, a review of National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) data shows that the hourly wage needed to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in the 50263 Waukee zip code is $21.54/hour, creating difficulty for hourly wage workers looking to live near jobs there. The job market in Waukee is quite strong, with NLIHC's latest estimate of unemployment in the community at just 2.3%. As a result, Waukee officials have acknowledged a lack of workers has prompted some businesses in the community to delay opening.

The RFP released by Waukee aligns with the City's goal to "create, expand, and maintain affordable hosuing for low- and moderate-income families and senior citizens." Issued this month, the RFP calls for, among other things, housing that meets the criteria for federal housing tax credits and can be built on land currently zoned R-4 for rowhouses and townhomes with a maximum density of 12 units/acre. In exchange, the developer selected will qualify incentives from the city including receiving the land at low or no cost.

The deadline to apply for Waukee's RFP is August 29, 2022.


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