Revitalizing Rural Iowa

Revitalizing Small Towns and Rural Areas in Iowa

Iowa’s small towns and rural communities are facing a number of challenges with shrinking population, fewer jobs, an aging housing stock, closing schools, and lack of access to basic health care services.

Challenges for Rural Areas
• Two-thirds of Iowa counties lost population between 2010 and 2017
• Iowa has added nearly 100,000 people since 2010, but that growth has been limited to the states metro areas
• In the last decade, 126 public school buildings have closed, many in rural areas
• Iowans access to broadband ranks 33rd worst in the country

Housing
• In Iowa, 23.4% of households are housing cost-burdened, which means they spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
• Renters have the highest rate of housing cost-burdened with 20% being cost-burdened and another 20% being severely cost-burdened, which means they spend more than 50% of their in-come on housing.

Lack of Access to Health Care
• Over the last decade, over 100 health care centers, clinics, and pharmacies have closed their doors, many in rural areas.
• 82 of Iowa’s 118 hospitals are designated as critical access centers with fewer than 25 beds, nearly all in rural areas. 20% of these hospitals are in danger of closing.
• Only 39% of Iowa citizens even have adequate access to mental health services
• Population decline has made it difficult for rural communities to recruit enough EMT’s to even provide basic emergency ambulance service

Our Plan

More Affordable Housing

Expand workforce housing tax credit and direct a minimum of 20% to rural areas and small towns for new, affordable housing.

Fixing Up Old Housing

$2 million grant fund to partner with small towns to fix up and rehab abandoned buildings to develop more housing options

Expand Broadband

Make high speed internet access available to more Iowans by expanding the grant program to connect more Iowans

More Emergency Services

Expand tax credit for EMT, police, and fire volunteers in rural communities; create grant fund to help rural communities with infrastructure, volunteer training, and equipment for emergency personnel