UPDATE: 50 rental homes to be transformed into single-family uni - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: 50 rental homes to be transformed into single-family units on Dubuque's North-End

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

UPDATE: The Dubuque City Council approved has a project to rehab 50 rental homes within the city. Council members moved the project forward on Monday, through a 6-1 vote.

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Original Story:

Urban renewal is coming to an eastern Iowa city.

The plan is to rehab 50 rental properties into single-family homes. It's to help transform Dubuque's north-end, into what it once was.

Chuck Harris, president of the North End Neighborhood Association has lived in the community for about 10 years. "I like being downtown, I like being close to things, I like being able to get around town really quickly, so it's really nice being down here."

But he says at times, there are problems with crime. "There are bad actors in this community, as there are in any community."

It's an issue the city of Dubuque wants to change, focusing on housing. In partnership with the True North Corporation, which is affiliated with the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC), True North plans to buy 50 rental properties that are abandoned and poorly maintained. Also, those that attract crime.

The City of Dubuque is funding the project, putting $1.5 million into the initiative over the next seven years.

"Focusing on slum and blight rental property, that'll be the key for us. And then rehabilitating that property," said Rick Dickinson, president and CEO of GDDC.

The goal is to renovate them into single-family units for first-time home buyers, ultimately transforming the community.

Harris believes any investment in the area is good. "Fifty sounds like a big number, but when you look at how many houses and homes are in this area, 50 is almost a drop in the bucket."

However, some worry it might be a way to force low-income people out.

"We know there's concern about gentrification, in the neighborhood, that's certainly not our intent. In fact, we'll be very concerned about that and we'll do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen."

Following approval during Monday night's city council meeting, the project will now start in July with the purchase of four properties. It will then be 10 each year after. 

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