Feb 14, 2022 - News

Polk County's rising home values disqualify some from assistance

An illustration of a house.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Polk County's rapidly rising home values are disqualifying low-income families from assistance, multiple county managers told supervisors during budget meetings this month.

Why it matters: The county's programs are intended to help poor families avoid extreme hardships, including homelessness. But their reach is getting smaller as home values get bigger.

By the numbers: The median price of a Polk County home is $195,000, up almost 25% in the last five years, according to county data.

  • Meanwhile, property tax suspensions for low-income and disabled people are limited to those who live in homes that are $110,000 or less in value.
  • The max is $128,000 in a separate emergency home repair program.

What they're saying: Every year, there are people who were previously in the tax suspension program that no longer qualify due to their home's value, Eric Kool, director of Polk County Community, Family and Youth Services, told Axios.

  • Past recipients are generally grandfathered in via a director's exception but new applicants are often turned away, he said.

What to watch: Supervisors last week agreed to review the qualifications prior to approving the upcoming budget for the fiscal year that starts in July.

  • The county allocates just over $10 million in services to the poor. Supervisors Chairperson Angela Connolly proposed raising the funding by as much as $5 million.

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