Downtown Workforce Housing Study

The National Low Income Housing Coalition came out with a report in the beginning of 2019 reporting that Des Moines needs to address affordable housing, specifically in the metro area. 60% of Extremely Low-Income tenants cannot afford rental units. Additionally, Des Moines needs to add 11,848 affordable units. 

Because of these findings, Capitol Crossroads, the City of Des Moines, and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund collaborated to find data about the urban Des Moines area. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Households with four or more people have little to no opportunity to find a unit Downtown.
  • Nearly 58,000 households in the Des Moines are cost-burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. 
  • Polk County will need to add 57,170 net new housing units between 2018 and 2038 to accommodate net new workers in the region. 
  • Polk County will need to add a total of 33,592 new owner-occupied units.
  • On the rental side, these employment-driven housing demand forecasts suggest a need for 23,577 new rental units over the 2018 to 2038 period.

Our Executive Director, Pam Carmichael, attended two presentations this past week speaking about the findings from the report: “We have long known that we have an affordable housing shortage in the Des Moines area. Although we have always known that housing impacts economic development, this report links the need for affordable housing as a workforce and economic development issue. As businesses expand and hire new workers at low wage jobs the workers still need a place to go home at night. If we don’t have available affordable housing our businesses will not be able to grow and prosper. It’s like the old saying; ‘Which came first the chicken or the egg?’.”

“Unfortunately, some people have taken the title of “downtown” totally out of context and believe that this is a Des Moines problem. No, this is a regional problem. Downtown Des Moines does have the largest workforce, however some of the lowest paying jobs are in retail and every suburb in Polk County relies on retail shopping to attract and retain residents.”    

Learn More:
Details about the National Low Income Housing Coalition Report:

Read the Downtown Workforce Housing Study: 

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