Housing Revitalization Program
Changing neighborhoods one house at a time
“Amazing doesn’t describe the transformation.”
Those are the words of longtime Council Bluffs resident LaDonna Coover as she expressed her astonishment at the impact of the recently renovated house next door.
Gone is what used to be 2414 4th Ave – a single-family property that had been vacant for several years. Thanks to the 712 Initiative’s Housing Revitalization Program, the house is warm, welcoming, and move-in ready for its new occupants.
“The roof was definitely an eyesore, and when a strong wind blew, its shingles were in our yard,” said Coover, who along with her husband, Jon, has lived in the neighborhood near Thomas Jefferson High School for the past 14 years. “It’s nice to not have that problem. The work is something else. Really amazing.”
The program, launched in 2020, aims to improve owner-occupied housing across the city. The 712 Initiative purchases homes in need of renovations — everything from adding central air, updates to safety to curb appeal, and more — and sells the property once completed. The goal is to improve neighborhood and housing quality for Bluffs homeowners.
It was a problem that needed addressing. When reviewing residential units throughout the Bluffs, data noted that 548 properties were in poor condition; they had significant surface wear, blistered paint, broken windows and steps, breaks in the foundation and walls, and more.
At the same time, 166 houses were in dilapidated condition, meaning the structure was unsound and substandard. Defects were found in the roof, foundation, and bearing elements.
In all of the properties in the program, major renovations and maintenance were required to improve the block, not to mention the community overall. Renovating existing properties help preserve the architectural fabric of the neighborhood while also keeping a more affordable sale price. To date, the 712 Initiative has renovated or is renovating nine houses for the betterment of the Bluffs.
“The 712 initiative goes above and beyond when remodeling homes,” said Jay Kathol, a Bluffs realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Homes Services, and helped facilitate the sale of the 4th Avenue house. “ The organization provides top-of-the-line, affordable homes for buyers — and in the process improves entire blocks and neighborhoods. Council Bluffs is extremely fortunate to have the 712 Initiative providing housing and improving our city.”
Nobody is as happy as the new homeowner, who purchased the 4th Avenue house and recently moved in. Congrats!
“It’s really impressive to see how this house used to look compared to how it looks now and the contractors who updated this did an amazing job,” said homeowner Taylor Hoden. “So far we absolutely love the house.”