Apr 12, 2021 - News

Des Moines to Iowa governor: Veto rental authority bill

Illustration of a key in a lock featuring a keyring with the "prohibited" symbol

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Des Moines is asking Gov. Kim Reynolds to veto a bill that would allow landlords to reject Section 8 rental subsidies for their tenants, city officials told Axios.

Why it matters: Nearly 3,200 Polk County low-income families receive the federal rent assistance and face a greater likelihood of returning to substandard housing or homelessness if their housing options are further limited.

  • DSM passed a city ordinance in 2019 that mandates landlords accept the payments because hundreds of families could not find housing. Iowa City and Marion have similar ordinances.
  • The average monthly assistance is $455.
  • But it requires landlords to participate in an additional city inspection, which some don’t want to do.

The other side: Republican lawmakers said property owners should have a right to choose what payments they accept.

  • Their bill would void the city mandates in 2023.
  • Reynolds has not indicated whether she will sign the bill.

What they’re saying: The inconvenience to landlords is minimal, DSM city manager Scott Sanders wrote in a March 19 letter to Reynolds that was obtained by Axios last week through a records request.

  • "This is our most vulnerable population, and this just adds another hurdle for them to find housing in our community," Chris Johansen, DSM’s municipal housing agency director, told Jason.

What’s next: A procedural step in which a bill is sent to the governor by legislative leaders has not yet been taken. That generally gives the governor three days to consider legislation. (Or 30 days if it’s sent to her desk at the end of the session.)

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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