NEWTON – This week, the Iowa Dept. of Corrections and Iowa Prison Industries held the official groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of the future Homes for Iowa Inc. project. This project is the product of a partnership between many stakeholders including from a diverse field of industries and organizations.
Speaking at the event was Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Iowa Finance Authority/Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, Iowa Dept. of Corrections Director Beth Skinner, State Senator Mark Lofgren, and Home Builders Assn. of Iowa Executive Director Jay Iverson.
Homes for Iowa Inc. is a recently-formed nonprofit with the mission of providing low-cost, quality homes for areas around the state with a need for such resources, and to Iowa families that meet certain income criteria (the statewide median income or below). While of high-quality, the homes are able to be constructed at a significantly reduced cost to the purchaser due to the labor for the construction coming from incarcerated individuals that desire to earn an allowance and desire to learn a highly-valuable trade skill and/or certified apprenticeship credit.
“In Iowa, we believe in second chances and building futures. Homes for Iowa is a common-sense solution that will close the housing gap in rural Iowa while bringing a new pool of talent to the workforce and open doors for Iowans on the road to redemption,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Once again, Iowa’s powerful public-private partnerships are coming together to make this concept a reality that will benefit Iowans.”
“Homes for Iowa is a creative way to solve multiple problems at once. It will help close a gap in our workforce, transition offenders back into society, and move the needle on the rural housing shortage,” said Lt. Gov. Gregg. “This is yet another step in empowering the rural parts of our state.”
DOC Director Skinner stated, “This official launch today is just the latest example of how we can safely incarcerate, and provide the work skills necessary that make it possible to rehabilitate.”
Iowa Prison Industries plans to build the first four homes for the program this year, with a target of eighteen homes to be built in 2020, and 36 homes in 2021. The program will offer an allowance for inmates that participate which will be garnished to help pay for outstanding victim restitution and court debts/fines. It will also allow inmates to take part in U.S. Dept. of Labor certified apprenticeship programs in plumbing, electrical, carpentry and general labor.
The Homes for Iowa Board has determined that the first four homes built this year will be directed to the Marshalltown area, which was heavily damaged by a tornado this spring.