Addressing the Housing Imbalance: Mission 500's Plan to Transform Ottumwa's Housing Market

Addressing the Housing Imbalance: Mission 500's Plan to Transform Ottumwa's Housing Market Main Photo

18 May 2023


A community's housing market plays a crucial role in shaping the quality of life for its residents, attracting newcomers to the area, and supporting local businesses in their efforts to recruit and retain employees. Recognizing the significance of this aspect, the City of Ottumwa, in collaboration with the Legacy Foundation, embarked on a transformative journey to evaluate and address the housing situation in their region. With the assistance of RDG Planning & Design, a comprehensive study was conducted to assess Ottumwa's housing market, identify existing imbalances, and propose a future vision for the community.

RDG Planning & Design approached the study by employing a combination of community outreach and market analysis, aiming to understand Ottumwa's housing needs and craft a strategic plan to rectify the current imbalance. The study's findings revealed a pressing need for an additional 500 residences in Ottumwa by 2030 to achieve an equilibrium between housing supply and demand.

Mission 500: A Pooling of Resources for Significant Results

We asked Zach Simonson, Director of Community Development, City of Ottumwa, about the specific actions that would be taken by the Mission 500 initiative to address the housing shortage in Ottumwa by 2030 and how they would be prioritized and implemented. Simonson replied, "Mission 500 is a direct result of the 2022 Ottumwa Housing Plan. Many vital partners were at the table for the steering committee for the Housing Plan, and others were added directly as a result of feedback on the plan. The plan included several recommendations for specific actions, and Mission 500 has taken responsibility for moving the needle on those. The group is directly involved in non-profit coordination. Where we used to have several housing non-profits working in different directions, Mission 500 brings everyone to the table to collaborate and maximize impact by sharing resources or pooling efforts in a single neighborhood for a more significant result.

Simonson added, “Further, Mission 500 has created an open dialogue with developers, bankers, and the government to tailor incentives for gap financing to the needs of specific projects in Ottumwa. Finally, the group is an incubator for ideas. Coming from the Housing Plan, Ottumwa is working on a program to develop site plans for middle-density infill development to create a product that can be financed and thrive on the many infill lots we have in the community."

Moving the project forward

Andy Maw is Newcomer Relations Coordinator at Welcome & Connect Services, Ottumwa. He spoke about the collaborative efforts between various agencies, the City of Ottumwa, and others, who would work alongside local businesses to encourage participation and investment in the Mission 500 initiative. He said, "Mission 500 has a steering committee comprised of folks representing many organizations in both the private and public sectors. We understand the value of bringing these folks to the table to have these discussions so they can give their input and we can all advocate for each other. Creating this coalition lets us know who to get involved with when opportunities present themselves. This has come into play recently with a developer looking to build market-rate housing in Ottumwa. We got a number of us around the table to talk through the project, the incentives, and how we should best be able to move the project forward."

Through the collaborative efforts of Mission 500, Ottumwa has taken a proactive stance in addressing the housing imbalance and laying the foundation for a brighter future. By uniting the community, fostering partnerships, and implementing a comprehensive plan, Ottumwa is poised to add 500 residences by 2030. With a renewed housing market, Ottumwa will thrive as a place where residents enjoy improved living conditions, newcomers are enticed by the opportunities available, and businesses flourish with a vibrant and sustainable workforce. Read all about the Housing Plan here. 

Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress: A valuable resource

Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress is a collaborative group committed to promoting the Ottumwa Region through business partnership opportunities. Our programs and events support initiatives that improve the quality of life and advance the economy. Get in touch with us here, and we shall be glad to be of assistance.