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Tax incentives helping cities of Jefferson, Winterset upgrade housing

State tax dollars are helping solve the housing shortage and attracting young people to rural areas.

IOWA, USA — The state of Iowa is infusing new money into apartment renovations in key towns across the state. It's a solution to the housing shortage in rural Iowa, and leaders hope it will attract more young people to these communities.

Cities like Jefferson and Winterset are using tax incentives to turn old school buildings into places to live. 

In Jefferson, the apartments are going into the old high school. It's part of a larger plan to revitalize downtown with a new daycare and rec center. 

Ken Paxton with the Greene County Chamber of Commerce said, "We have a desperate need for housing and just provides that what we're hoping that not only will it help provide housing, but also some of our local residents have an interest in moving into the apartments which are free of some housing. So it helps us on multiple, multiple fronts."

In Winterset, the apartments are going into the old high school right off the downtown square. There's a strategic reason for that. 

Winterset City Manager Drew Barden said, "The historic preservation committee has taken on an effort to keep our downtown square vibrant. We are committee members [who] pay special attention to our downtown square. We know that is a huge economic driver as well as a destination for tourism."

The cities rewarded with this money were just announced this week. 

In total, 49 projects were awarded tax incentive money from the state, totaling more than $29 million in tax credits. All of the projects are geared toward workforce housing.

WATCH | Advocates hopeful American Rescue Plan will help Iowans find affordable housing 

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