Affordable housing crisis continues in Eastern Iowa

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 10:32 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The number of people struggling with housing services has gone up dramatically since the pandemic.

Waypoint Services says in the fiscal year 2019 they served 3,003 people. That number jumped to 13,039 in the fiscal year 2021.

“There’s just no help for us anymore,” said Josh Squires.

Squires has rented his home in Van Horne for the last year. He’s on a fixed income after hurting his back and legs, his wife lost her disability benefit during the pandemic, and they’ve drained their savings. He says his landlord told said they were going to evict his family after several disagreements. He said finding a place in a one-income house hasn’t gone well.

“We’ve got nothing but I’m sorry, we don’t have anything available,” said Squires.

J’nae Peterman, the Director of Housing Services at Waypoint Services, said Squires wasn’t alone. She said inflation has helped drive up the cost of rent, but people with disabilities have seen their incomes relatively unchanged.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” she said. “Renting property is a business that landlords are operating. Low-income tenants often times can’t afford three times the rent.”

Peterman said the solution was easier said than done; there needs to be more affordable housing for people like Squires.

“We need housing that somebody who’s on a fixed income, it’s affordable to them,” said Peterman. “So, they’re not spending more than 35% of their income. You’re looking at a one-bedroom apartment for $200 for somebody that’s receiving $735-$753 range.”

She said Squires has an uphill battle as it could take months if not years to secure affordable housing in the area. While Squires continues to search, he said it was time to speak out for others in need of help like himself.

“I did nothing to deserve this,” he said. “I’m sure other families didn’t do anything to deserve this. Why are we being punished?”