Residents Suffer Due to Metro’s Lack of Affordable Housing Units

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Eddy Apartment Building in Des Moines is now uninhabitable, and for some who called it home, it could be difficult to find new housing.

Polk County housing officials say a deadly fire at the apartment complex on Thursday left at least a dozen people using affordable housing vouchers homeless. They also say the shortage in affordable housing units will make it hard for them to find new places to live.

"There are not just 60 units sitting around in Des Moines waiting for them to rent right now, so it’s going to be a real struggle for them to find some place affordable for them to rent that’s safe," said Josh Hellyer of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.

There's both a housing shortage and a shortage of landlords who rent low-income units.

"A third of section eight households that get vouchers have to give those vouchers back because they can't end up finding a place to live. So that’s one in three households that get the voucher that you'd think they would be able to go find a place to live, but they end up not being able to because of a shortage of housing and because landlords are unwilling to work with them," Hellyer said.

Some people have been trying to find affordable housing for a long time, like Benjamin Anthony who has been searching for a year.

"It's hard because of the timing of it and the help, you know, it’s hard, it’s a struggle. It shouldn’t be that long to help someone with homelessness," Anthony said.

Anthony is not alone.

"There only about 4,000 vouchers in Des Moines and the waiting list is 3 and 4 years, and it's closed right now," Hellyer said.

Despite the expected $6 billion in cuts to housing and urban development, Anthony remains hopeful he and others can get into a unit sometime soon.