Aug 22, 2022 - News

Des Moines to track problematic properties

Illustration of a woman facing an office door and a front door to a house
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Des Moines is surveying the conditions of buildings across all neighborhoods as part of a Property Improvement Initiative, city spokesperson Al Setka tells Axios.

Why it matters: The information will be used to decide where money from city improvement programs should be spent.

State of play: The city survey will be more focused than county assessor's report which looks at the general condition of properties.

  • Roofs, siding, windows and foundations are among the specific points of visual inspections conducted from sidewalks or streets.

What they're saying: Groups such as the ACLU of Iowa have cautioned that the program could disproportionately burden minority and low-income families.

  • Legal action against owners who refuse to improve their property is possible.

The other side: The data is intended to identify problems and work with neighborhoods or owners before properties become uninhabitable, SuAnn Donovan, assistant director of the city Neighborhood Services division, told the council last year.

What's next: Surveying started in May and about a third of DSM — roughly 96,000 properties — is assessed, Setka said.

  • The rest will be completed in the coming months.
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