December 1, 2019
by Steve Stofka
My wife and I were visiting dear friends in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a college town surrounded by farms, small industrial businesses and several Amish communities. The people are friendly, the town is bucolic, and the downtown area has been revitalized after a flood several years ago. I was introduced to Hurts Donuts, a franchise of cake style donuts that just opened in Cedar Falls (KWWL, 2019). Yum, yum.
A 1600 SF house built in the 1950s can be had for less than $200K. I priced one house in Cedar Falls that would have sold in Denver for $350-$400K. Asking price was $180K. We helped a friend move into a townhome with 1100 SF living area and a garage. Rent? $850 per month, half of what I could rent a townhome in Denver.
Do the residents make considerably less? Not according to Best Places (n.d.). Their median household income and average income are almost exactly the national average. Cedar Falls sister city is Waterloo, which has the largest population of African-Americans in Iowa. At about 10,000, that’s less than 2% of the state’s population. That’s half of the black population in a neighborhood two miles from where I grew up in New York City. Iowa doesn’t do black. New York City does.
The city made the local news this year when the financial web site 24/7 ranked the city as the worst place in America to be African-American. Ouch. A reporter with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier dug deeper into the Census Bureau numbers used by 24/7 and confirmed that the data was not skewed or taken out of proper context (Steffen, 2019).
Presidential candidates visit the twin city area frequently. Elizabeth Warren was going to be back in Cedar Falls on December 1st, but we couldn’t stay there. Candidates for either party pound the rostrum and offer solutions for big problems. The biggest problems are the small ones next door to us.
Best Places. (n.d.). Cedar Falls, Iowa. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/iowa/cedar_falls
KWWL. (2019, November 6). Hurts Donut open today in Cedar Falls. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://kwwl.com/news/top-stories/2019/11/06/hurts-donuts-open-today-in-cedar-falls/
Steffen, A. (2019, February 2). Waterloo Confronts List’s Label as Worst Area to Be Black. Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/iowa/articles/2019-02-09/waterloo-confronts-lists-label-as-worst-area-to-be-black
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bayside, Queens. [Web Page]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayside,_Queens