The University of Iowa

Student Work Makes its Way to the Iowa Legislature


For two years, University of Iowa students have been exploring the potential of land banks, which are legal entities that can stimulate redevelopment of blighted properties for affordable housing and economic development. This spring, the Iowa legislature is considering land bank legislation based on their work.

Exploring land banks began with Urban and Regional Planning students completing an IISC project in partnership with East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), a regional planning agency serving five counties in eastern Iowa. The students' final presentation spurred interest to continue the land bank study from a legal perspective, and the project was picked up by the College of Law’s Community Empowerment Law Project. Three law students - Brandon Pezley, Evan McCarthy, and Adam Ripp - worked closely with ECIA to evaluate the feasibility of land banks and, ultimately, drafted the language for the bill now moving through the state legislation. 

Land Banks are supported by legislation in just ten states across the country, and Iowa could become the next state to adopt land bank enabling legislation. The bill, Senate Study Bill 1247, was filed by Senator Michael Breitbach this session as an appropriations bill. It would establish land banks as a tool in Iowa to “facilitate the return of dilapidated, abandoned, blighted, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use,” with a focus on affordable housing development. 

The efforts of our students and faculty, along with visionary community partners, exemplifies that great work being done through University of Iowa community engagement!

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