hubbard: fourplex

Contrary to most rural communities, the City of Hubbard’s population grew approximately 5.4 percent from 2010 to 2016. While this bodes well for the community in general, it exacerbates the community’s housing shortage.

Rental units are extremely limited in Hubbard, and it is rare for existing single family homes to come up for sale. Further, the opportunity to develop new housing is fairly limited due to flooding concerns and by the fact that few area farmers are willing to sell their land.

City leaders have long recognized the housing challenge in Hubbard but have been unable to attract any development. In fact, no units have been constructed since 2010, and just 14 units have been built since 1990.

Still, with the right development concept, both greenfield and infill opportunities are available to address the housing shortage and to create a range of housing choices for both existing and potential Hubbard residents.

Hardin County should develop a 28E agreement with the cities that outlines the specific scope – including the enforcement officer’s duties as well as those of the county and cities – and fees, including the structure for the payment of funds. Given their existing programs, Iowa Falls and Eldora do not need to be part of this primary 28E agreement; however, they may consider entering into a secondary agreement to work collaboratively with the county program.

To ensure program success, the agreement(s) and funding commitments should initially cover a three-year period. As the three year window comes to a close, the county and cities will need to assess early successes and outcomes and modify the program as needed to ensure long-term success.

Funding for the position should be shared amongst the county and cities, excluding Iowa Falls and Eldora. It should be calculated based on population and the number of housing units. Since the code enforcement officer’s work will be based largely on the number of units, this element should be weighted more than population; of course, the two typically go hand in hand.
An example agreement for an employee supported by a county and multiple cities can be found in Appendix D.

  • 35% built before 1939
  • $78,500 median home value
  • $572 median rent
  • 23.9% households with children under 18
  • 73.6% with one or two people

To begin, a single fourplex building should be developed. The building should include two two-bedroom units on either side and two one-bedroom units in the center of a one-level building. The cost to build is about $132,000 per unit. At this price point, a one-bedroom would need to rent for $850-$900 per month, while a two-bedroom would need to rent for around $1,200 per month.

Recognizing a developer is unlikely to be successful at these price points, it will be imperative to develop a partnership with local businesses to make the project work financially. Each business should commit to renting one or two of the units for a minimum of three years. In this manner, the developer is assured of monthly rental income from these entities, minimizing their risk, while also providing units for their team members. At the same time, this leaves a couple of units open for community members at large.

Further, the local businesses that commit to renting units will need to subsidize monthly rents so that the rates paid by occupants align with the market; there is no way to build modern units for less than $132,000 per unit without something like 3D printing technology; estimates show this technology could reduce construction costs by about $15 per square foot. The City of Hubbard should consider supporting the units that are not supported by businesses or work with the developer to explore other incentives for the apartments. Again, without this kind of financial support, the development is unlikely to be successful.

Hubbard leaders recognize the community’s status as a “bedroom community” as well as the value it provides as an inexpensive place to live. To attract young people and entice them to put down roots in Hubbard, the community needs to expand its housing choice. More specifically, the community should focus on attracting a developer to bring more apartment units to town.

There are currently two fourplex apartment buildings in town, both of which are at capacity. If there is vacancy at one of these units, the window to secure a unit is minimal. Without this entry point to the community to test the proverbial waters, attracting new people – those without a connection to the community – is nearly impossible.

Action Steps

create community housing program

City leadership, Hardin County Development Alliance

Develop pro-forma. Vet with City Council and local businesses. Obtain initial commitments from local businesses.

Q3 2018

secure and develop property

Architects, engineers, contractors, city leadership, and Hardin County Development Alliance

Identify and secure property. Pursue donation of site from current land owner. Work with professional services to design floorplan and price out development. Look at city staff and Hardin County Development Alliance to see where skill sets align for development; hire contractors to fill gaps.

Q1 2019

launch community housing program

City leadership, Hardin County Development Alliance

Work with local businesses to determine how strong interest is for existing staff to rent apartment units. Create marketing materials for recruitment and retention of current and future team members.

Q2 2019