Housing Study

City of Montezuma 2011 Housing Study

The City of Montezuma contracted with Region 6 Planning to conduct a local housing study which was completed in April 2011.  A housing needs summary and future recommendations are included below.  A copy of the full 26-page study with supporting demographic and statistical data is available by contacting the City Office, 641-623-5617. 

Housing Needs Summary

Poor housing can affect the health of residents and the property values of surrounding homes.  Well kept and well planned housing invites families to settle in an area, makes a community attractive, and keeps families healthy and intact.  Adequate housing options support business development and community growth.  The number of people commuting to Montezuma for work is higher than other Iowa communities.  Capturing some of these commuters will be beneficial to the community.  Retaining these workers requires an adequate, attractive, and affordable housing stock.  Having an adequate supply of housing will support the community’s local schools. 

7 Recommendations to Meet Housing Needs

Recommendation 1:  Improve existing housing.  The existing housing stock is one of the most important assets in the community.  Existing housing is also the most affordable housing available when compared with the cost of new construction.  Efforts need to be made to protect and upgrade the housing stock since it is an important asset.  Certain homes need to be targeted for rehabilitation where feasible or demolition where rehabilitation is not feasible.  If homes are deemed infeasible for rehabilitation, suitable low-income rental properties should be constructed or located to accommodate existing tenants. 

The City should continue to pursue all available grant and loan programs for this activity, as in the Iowa Department of Economic Development CDBG Owner Occupied Housing Improvement Fund.  This is a federally funded activity so the future of funding is uncertain.  The City should consider using part of local option sales tax or general obligation urban renewal bond revenues for further housing improvement activities.

Recommendation 2:  Adopt a local land use vision with zoning controls, property maintenance controls, and subdivision ordinance.  The City should plan for new growth within the city.  There are commercial and residential locations around the city that are blighting influences on the city or nearby properties.  Nobody wants to invest or reside next to homes that are eyesores or falling apart.  The city should adopt the international property maintenance code or some sections of that.  The property maintenance code will address issues like broken windows, holes in roofs, badly decayed exterior housing components, ill kept housing, falling off porches, bad furniture in lawns, and poor fences.  Likewise, as the city develops over the next 100 years, the city should plan locations for different uses.  With some land uses, the city should plan adequate buffers and controls so that they do not become eyesores.  The first step of this effort should be to complete a comprehensive plan immediately followed by a zoning ordinance and property maintenance code.  The Monte 2020 Public Input Report ranks “cleanup existing residential properties” as a 4.31 average rank, the 6th highest score.  There appears to be good public support and momentum for this recommendation. 

Recommendation 3:  Plan new housing locations for different housing options.  The city should plan a location for additional multi-family housing, more affordable housing options like double wide manufactured or modular housing, and high end custom built homes.  Custom homes should be planned in an area with good amenities, views, lot sizes, and neighborhood.  Other housing options can be planned in other locations.  The city should create a subdivision for about 10 homes.  The lots should be subsidized to attract growth.  An urban renewal district/TIF district should be created around the new area.  A different area should be planned for more affordable construction and multi-family homes.  This area should also include a TIF district.  Under current Iowa law, 38.4% of the Montezuma TIF benefit must be set aside to go into a low and moderate income housing benefit account.  The other 61.6% can go back to the development.  That account should be directed towards low and moderate income existing housing improvements.  That fund could be used as cash match towards any housing grant applications, if federal funding is available. 

Recommendation 4:  Work to beautify the gateways and main corridors of Montezuma.  The city should adopt zoning and property maintenance standards for the corridor.  The city should look at some long term options to improve the mobile home park affordable housing.  The mobile home park provides affordable housing, but does not offer a good impression.

Recommendation 5:  Encourage downtown redevelopment which includes additional housing.  Downtown Montezuma would benefit from additional housing in the district.  Most of the downtown buildings have upper stories that are under-utilized.  The downtown commercial atmosphere should be preserved, but the conversion of upper stories of downtown buildings to residential uses should be further considered.  Financial support may be obtained from the HOME program or others for this activity. 

Recommendation 6:  Promote community spirit and a positive attitude toward economic development.  This is a tough objective, but some people in the community do not maintain their homes with a strong civic spirit.  Montezuma residents need to adopt a better civic attitude to improve the community.  Having a working housing committee that will progressively consider new initiatives is an important first step.

Recommendation 7:  Increase the number of quality rental units.  Attracting new people to Montezuma will require some additional quality rental units.  Economic development also requires housing development.  The community should try to increase the number of affordable rental units through programs like – Iowa Finance Authority Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and HOME. 

Action Plan

Montezuma has a strong record of improving community assets.  Housing needs to be a key agenda item so that housing improvement follows the pattern of past objectives.

A group in Montezuma should take strong ownership of the housing issues contained in this plan.  Montezuma population growth is dependent upon finding attractive locations for growth.  The older affordable housing stock also should be continually improved.  Montezuma has great future potential and leadership should also regularly concentrate on the housing recommendations contained in this plan.

Region 6 Planning is also available to provide technical assistance for any housing development or redevelopment.  A number of goals will require investment.  Housing is a key economic development issue.  There are many economic development associated with housing improvements.  The City of Montezuma will need to be a key partner in implementing this study.