City housing expert: ‘Building collapse could’ve happened anywhere’

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s oldest city has its share of buildings that are 100 years old or older.

Dubuque is known for rehabilitating many of them. Dubuque’s Housing Director said the city is doing its best to protect the people who rent housing within some of its old buildings.

Jamie Izaguirre lives in one of Dubuque’s 11 thousand rental properties.

“It was a single-family home I presume, and it was transferred into a multi-family housing,” he said.

Izagurrie says his living situation has been less than ideal. As a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a nonprofit which advocates for several social issues, has taken his concerns to the city. He hoped to prevent what happened in Davenport from happening in Dubuque.

“The issues in Davenport should show that the consequences can be dire,” he said.

Alexis Steger is the city’s Housing and Community Development Director. She said the policy they have in place incentivizes landlords to work in the city. She says they recently hired a new inspector and can now check every rental in the city every five years.

“We’re looking for anything that doesn’t meet our ‘International Maintenance’ code,” said Steger. “That could be everything from a battery not being in a fire alarm to walls that have peeling paint.”

She said if they do find a building not in compliance, they’ll continue holding the landlord accountable.

“We go back every 30 days and start citing landlords if they’re not making those fixes,” she said.

Steger said a building collapse like what happened in Davenport could happen anywhere, but being proactive keeps people like Izaguiree safe.

“It’s really devastating what happened in Davenport,” said Izaguiree.

Steger said people should contact the city if they notice something might be off with a building.