Lack of affordable housing affects Muscatine’s homeless

MUSCATINE, Iowa - Ryan and Kady are searching for a home to move into.

"None of them are in our budget," said Kady Litty.

For the last month, they've been living at the Muscatine Center for Social Action's homeless shelter but have been financially ready to leave for the last two weeks.

"We're constantly looking and like I said,  nothing's out there for what we need," said Ryan Patzkowsky.

It's also been a waiting game for Linda Lewis, she's been looking for 4 months.

"In Muscatine there`s just no place to rent, they've got like a year waiting list," said Lewis.

The Muscatine Center for Social Action's program director says Muscatine's lack of affordable housing is one of the leading causes of the area's rise in homelessness.

"80% of the people that come into our shelter are first time homeless and their reason for homelessness is because there`s not enough affordable housing in Muscatine," said Scott Dahlke, program director.

According to a Muscatine Housing Market Demand Study, the median rent is $762 a month, which people on low-income can't afford.

Dahlke hopes his shelter will soon offer a step in the right direction.

The shelter is working to rehab a home on 4th street to turn it into six, one-bedroom apartments for people who qualify as homeless or at risk of being homeless but that only solves part of the problem.

"It's a drop in the bucket, If I'm putting six more units on the market where's the other 994 coming from?," said Dahlke.

He hopes more people will understand that spending less on rent means spending more elsewhere.

"If these people are only spending 30% of their money on housing then they have money left over to put back into our economy," said Dahlke.

As for Linda, she was told she will finally be able to move into a home this weekend.

However Ryan and Kady, they'll continue to search to find a home for their family "How do you justify to your son that you`re in a homeless shelter because you pretty much can`t afford a place to live," said Litty.