People concerned about gentrification as Dubuque plans to buy, rehab, sell 120 homes

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- People in Dubuque are worried about a project that will renovate 120 homes in the north end. It's a project the city is working to complete with the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC).

That non profit will buy, rehabilitate and sell up to 50 homes in Dubuque's north end, which includes parts of Central Avenue, Kerper Boulevard and more. The city of Dubuque has dedicated $1.5 million to GDDC. They're calling the project 'Dubuque's True North.'

Director Ed Raber says they're currently researching properties and will buy some in the early fall. He said it will take between five and seven years to renovate up to 50 homes.

There's been mixed reaction to this plan. Home owner Ben Gill said he is excited about the project.

"As a home owner in the area I believe strongly that it’s a good thing," he said.

However, he does understand that it can be concerning for some.

Miquel Jackson is a home owner with some concerns. He recently bought a city renovated home in the Washington Neighborhood. He worries too many newly renovated homes could drive up property values, taxes and rent and then force low-income people out. People refer to this as "gentrification."

"It may not be the intentions to move people out who were currently in the neighborhood," he said. "It’s definitely, you know, an issue, or it can be an issue.”

He's also worried that the city isn't reaching out to minorities to purchase the renovated homes.

Out of the current renovated city properties, Jackson said, "I’ve seen one single mom who was black who bought a house nearby across the street, but other than that it’s mainly white women who I’ve seen.”

He questions, "are these services useful or are they being utilized by minorities the way that it should be?”

Raber said GDDC is currently working with other non profits in the area to reach out to people who live in these neighborhoods. He said there is no guarantee the project won't result in higher property values or rent; that's actually one of his goals.

"We hope that rising, but not escalating, property values, is going to be a good thing to help stabilize the north end and make buying a home a great, a better investment," Raber explained.

He said if things do get too expensive for some, they have the option to find a new place to live.

Raber said, "no one is required to live in a particular neighborhood and that will just be that dance that people make.”

Miquel will be watching to see what happens.

He said, "I want it to be as morally responsible as possible.”

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