Rep. Tom Jeneary — April 8, 2021

Greetings from the Statehouse,

This week is the second funnel week here in the Legislature. In order for policy to remain alive beyond this point, House bills needed to be voted out of committee in the Senate and vice versa. This week my newsletter will highlight current broadband legislation and renter/homeowner assistance for eligible COVID-19 impacted individuals.

House Passes Changes to Broadband Grant Program

This week the House unanimously passed HF 848 making changes to Iowa’s Broadband Grant Program. When the governor introduced her bill, it made significant changes to the existing program and focused on increasing speeds around the state. The House believed that this emphasis should be placed on connecting Iowans who currently do not have access to broadband internet.

The product of the resulting conversations between the Governor and the House, resulted in a bill that both focused on speed of deployment and internet speeds. Grant funds will be eligible at varying amounts based on the internet speed (or lack thereof) available. Broadband infrastructure project must deploy fiber to Targeted Service Areas to receive grant funds.

HF 848 is a step in the right direction to set the framework for aggressively building out Iowa’s broadband infrastructure to ensure that all Iowans will have access to broadband internet. However, this policy bill will have limited effect without a significant financial investment within the grant program. As of this publication, the House has set a goal to invest $100 million this year alone in the broadband grant program.

Assistance for Renters and Homeowners Available

Iowa COVID-19 impacted renters and homeowners are now able to apply for assistance with rent and mortgage payments through two assistance programs.

The Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program will provide eligible COVID-19 impacted renters with rent and/or utility assistance for a total of up to twelve months. General eligibility requirements state that applicants must be current renters earning no more than 80% of the county area median income, one or more renters must have either qualified for unemployment or have experienced a documented financial hardship as result of COVID-19, and can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which may include a past due utility, rent notice or eviction notice.

The Iowa Homeowner Eviction Prevention Program reopened applications this week to provide eligible COVID-19 impacted homeowners at imminent risk of eviction with mortgage assistance for up to four months, with a max assistance per household of $3,600. The short-term program will be available until funds are exhausted or a new federal program is launched. This funding is provided through the Federal CARES Act funds.

Program details are available under ‘Assistance for Homeowners’ at IowaHousingRecovery.com.

As we close out week twelve, I believe that this is one of the fastest paced sessions in which I have ever participated. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve you. As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns – please reach out.
Representative Tom Jeneary
Serving the Citizens of House District Five

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