Homes for Iowa holds Groundbreaking Ceremony

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With there being a shortage in affordable rural housing, and a lack of skilled workers, non-profit organization Homes for Iowa is the solution to meet the demand of good quality homes for citizens and communities that need them. 

On June 20, 2019, Homes for Iowa held a groundbreaking ceremony at its 100 acre site at the Newton Correctional Facility. Speakers included Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Iowa Finance Authority/Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, Iowa Department of Corrections Director Beth Skinner, State Senator Mark Lofgren, and Home Builders Association of Iowa Executive Director Jay Iverson.

Governor Kim Reynolds shares, “In Iowa we believe in second chances, and believe in building futures, and we believe in dignity and worth and beauty, and grace, and that's exactly what Homes for Iowa is all about. It is a common sense solution that's set to bring a new pool of talent to the workforce, close the housing gap in rural Iowa, and open doors for Iowans on the road to redemption.”

Modeled after South Dakota's “Governor’s House” program, individuals, cities, or developers can apply and start the process for a house through Homes for Iowa. Any family, earning below the state median, $73,100 per year, would qualify for a home. Homes for Iowa's goal is to keep the price of the homes at around $125,000. Iowa Prison Industries will then oversee the construction of the homes, where inmates from the Newton Correctional Facility will be building 2-3 bedroom houses. This program will allow inmates to gain experience in plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and the construction industry which will give them the skills to find jobs after their release and help reduce recidivism.

“This is a partnership that I believe will truly change lives for Iowans who seek a second chance, and possibly a generational change for their families, when incarcerated individuals in this program transition back into their communities.” shares Adam Gregg, Iowa's Lieutenant Governor.

These houses will be built at the Newton Correctional Facility, on a ten-acre, fenced-in site, and then the homes will be delivered in one piece to wherever they are placed. This self-sustaining program will help communities grow in rural areas.

“If you were to ask 100 people the purpose of the correctional system, I think people would have very different answers. Some would say it's to incarcerate, deprivation of freedom as a penalty for having broken the law. Some people would say it's to rehabilitate, to make a person better than when they came in, to refrain from future violation and laws. Personally for long time, I have been under the belief that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive, and at Iowa Corrections, they are not. The official launch of Homes for Iowa is just a great example of how we can safely incarcerate, and provide the work skills necessary that make it possible to rehabilitate. We are one of the few projects that offers so much promise under one simple concept.” says Beth Skinner, the new Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections.

This year, Homes for Iowa plans to build 4 homes which will all go to Marshalltown in relief from last years tornado damage. The house layout will be 1,200-square-foot, two or three-bedroom, two-bathroom, energy-efficient home with an open floor plan. Eventually, the State’s goal is to build 875 homes in the next decade at the Newton site with about 100 low to medium security incarcerated individuals in the program at a time. 

To continue to follow Iowa Prison Industries journey with Homes for Iowa, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Also stay up to date on our blog for any updates. 

To learn more about Homes for Iowa, contact Dan Clark, Iowa Prison Industries Director, and Homes for Iowa board member. 

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