Iowans will have the opportunity to weigh in on tax-exempt single family mortgage bonds at an Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) public hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 20.

The bonds would be composed of at least one series in an aggregate principal amount of up to $150 million, a notice from the authority said.

Proceeds would primarily be used to refund Iowa Finance Authority debts and finance new, lower-interest mortgage loans for single family, owner-occupied homes in Iowa. Qualifications for the loans are under the Iowa Finance Authority’s single family mortgage program and federal laws.

Earlier this month, the Iowa Finance Authority announced it is awarding more than $9 million in grants to 27 Local Housing Trust Funds to assist more than 2,100 families.

In a statement, Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Debi Durham said the 2022 awards are the program’s highest-ever allocation for local housing initiatives.

“The Iowa Legislature recognized the Local Housing Trust Fund program as a highly successful funding mechanism for advancing housing opportunities for Iowans last session by increasing the amount of eligible funding for the program,” she said. “This funding increase will soon make a very real impact on Iowans and our communities.”

The grant funds will be used for initiatives such as preserving aging housing stock, subsidizing local rental and down payment assistance programs, providing low-interest loans or grants to assist Iowans with home rehabilitation, financing construction of new single-family housing for low-income Iowans and supporting housing for persons with disabilities and homeless assistance programs.

The Iowa Legislature created the fund in 2003. To date, the program has provided $93 million in affordable housing assistance for more than 31,000 Iowa families.

The State Housing Trust Fund provides 60% of its allocation to the Local Housing Trust Fund Program for organizations it certifies and the remainder to the Project-Based Housing Program, which helps develop affordable single-family and multifamily housing. The Iowa Finance Authority administers both programs.

The largest award for fiscal year 2022, $782,460, went to Polk County Housing Trust Fund. Other grants are listed here.

Polk County Housing Trust Fund Director of Communications and Community Outreach Matt Hauge said in a Project515 Affordable Housing Outlook webcast Dec. 2 with The Business Record said rents have increased to concerning levels based on the data they have and there is inflationary pressure.

“We probably are even at a higher price point now that we would have been had the pandemic not taken place,” he said.

Hauge said there have been several times this year where new owners of rental properties will increase rents and some families aren’t able to afford to stay.

“It can take six months or more for the market to absorb folks who are in that position of needing these affordable rents to find a new place, and oftentimes a directly comparable rate is just not available in this market,” he said. “We are seeing kind of a pattern of people getting squeezed out.”

The public hearings will be conducted a the IFA offices in Des Moines. Iowans can also call into the hearing via toll-free (800) 536-9136 (passcode 6993293) or write to Executive Director Debbie Durham. For more information, call Iowa Finance Authority Finance and Investment Manager Mark Fairley at 515-452-0423. Iowa Finance Authority is at 1963 Bell Ave. Suite 200 in Des Moines.