Forest View Tenants Association, Center for Worker Justice urge action

Iowa City Manager Geoff Fruin addresses the IC Council on April 5. CREDIT CITY OF IOWA CITY

The Iowa City Council met on April 5 to discuss the status and finer details of the Forest View Mobile Home Court relocation plan. 

Mazahir Salih, executive director of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, in a late submission, expressed the gravity of quickly agreeing on a consensus.

She explained residents moving from Forest View to a new location would need at least 50% of future funds to be received upfront since a majority of the tenants do not have a credit score due to their legal status in the United States. Therefore, landlords require a two-month deposit instead of a standard one-month deposit. Fifty percent will also help residents cover moving fees.

“Since Iowa City is a college town, a majority of the leases will begin in August. In order for tenants to be able to look for a place to live and pay their deposit, they will need relocation money in May instead of June,” she said in an email. “People typically start renewing their lease in the spring, now. This will help them have a better understanding if they will need to transfer their kids to another school for the upcoming school year.”

City council agreed to splitting two checks to residents as 50% upfront and 50% upon departure.

Iowa City Manager Geoff Fruin said American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds could likely be used as far back as March 2020, meaning the city can help with relocation assistance for around 74 to 82 households living in the trailer park. 

For residents who lived in the trailer park during the June 2019 Conditional Zoning Agreement but moved out before COVID-19 and are not eligible for ARPA funds, council members believe they should receive at least $7,200 – the amount families would’ve received to relocate under the 2019 agreement. Other council members vouched for these households to receive $15,700, the same amount as households that will receive ARPA funding.

City funds will cover households that do not qualify for ARPA funding. Still, those funds will be taxable unless households can be cross-referenced with other state and federal eligibility programs. 

To qualify for ARPA funding, which is not taxable, households must not exceed an income threshold of $40,626 as specified by the U.S. Treasury.


In May 2019, Iowa City Council approved a rezoning of 73 acres near Forest View Mobile Home Court for a $200 million project by Blackbird Investments and North Dubuque LLC, which would displace trailer park residents but give them first consideration for replacement manufactured housing on the site, as well as relocation assistance.

Despite residents being excited by the outcome (and council member John Thomas calling it a “visionary project’ during a March 23 city council meeting), the plan was delayed — and eventually abandoned — for financial reasons, leaving the remaining residents stuck in a rapidly decaying trailer park with their housing future in limbo. Moreover, since Forest View’s days are numbered (a move-out date is scheduled for Dec. 9), residents are hesitant to sink money into needed home repairs.

Last month, Mr. Fruin presented a summary of past events and recommendations moving forward to the council. 

“I do have reservations about making commitments to current residents about the ability to transition to future affordable housing,” he said. “They’ve been given a lot of hope over the last five or six years, and it hasn’t materialized. And I don’t feel like we have the ability to extend that hope.”

Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague agreed that although the city does not have a legal responsibility to handle this issue, they have a moral obligation to address it.