‘I cry about that a lot’: Eastern Iowa woman struggles to find housing after law change

An Eastern Iowa woman is racing to find housing for herself and her children. But figuring out how she'll pay for an apartment is proving to be an obstacle.
Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - An Eastern Iowa woman is racing to find housing for herself and her children, but she said how she plans on paying rent is proving to be an obstacle.

At the beginning of this year, a state law that was signed in 2021 went into effect. The law made it so that Iowa landlords no longer have to count money coming from the Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8, as a source of income.

Tamara Grant planned on using Section 8 to rent but said she cannot find a landlord who will accept the vouchers.

She showed TV9 crews texts from multiple landlords saying they did not accept the vouchers, as well as an exchange in which that was the first question she asked.

“‘Are you accepting the Housing Choice Voucher?’ I get a response. ‘I do not. We do not at this time. The property management does not accept it at this time,’” Grant said.

She said she has reached out to 20 to 30 landlords.

Grant said she became eligible for Section 8 due to her disability status after she had a stroke in 2013.

TV9 crews met with Grant in her Coralville motel room, where she said she and her children have been staying for about the last week. Before coming to the motel, she and her family had lived in the same place for four years.

“I only had to move because the owner sold the property,” said Grant.

She added that her resources are running low while she searches for a new place.

“Now that I’m spending money on constant rental applications, now I’m spending money on a hotel room. Now I’m spending money daily for all of us to eat. Now my funds are starting to be exhausted,” said Grant.

According to Rachel Carter, the Housing Administrator for the Iowa City Housing Authority, their office currently has 1,568 Housing Choice Vouchers in use. She added last year their office had 415 landlords who participated in taking vouchers.

“It’s guaranteed rent,” said Carter.

She added that, guaranteed rent or not, the housing market in the area was a tough one to navigate.

“Regardless of having a voucher or not, it can be difficult to find a rental unit in our community. You know, we’re a high demand area,” said Carter.

Grant said, more than difficult, she said her situation feels unfair.

“I cry about that a lot,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

She doesn’t know what to do—other than keep looking for a place to call home.

“I just need a home for me and my boys that’s suitable, somewhere we don’t have to leave,” she said.