Affordable housing project begins in Hillsboro

Vintage Construction LLC is the general contractor on the housing project in Hillsboro. Four buildings, which have twin homes in each structure are located on Third and Lincoln, Ash and Cedar streets. The photo shows early excavation for the four buildings at Third and Lincoln streets.Six new twin homes to accommodate 12 families will open by late summer in Hillsboro, according to Mark Cox, owner of Vintage Construction LLC, general contractor and one of the partners.

The difference between a twin home and a duplex, Cox said, is the twin home is one-half of a house that at some point can be owned by the renter, unlike a duplex that typically is a rental property only.

?These twin homes will have three bedrooms, two baths and a garage that enters into the house,? he said.

In addition, the homes will have durable flooring rather than wall-to-wall carpeting, refrigerator, range and washer and dryer.


?We will offer these to people who are lower income, and who may not have other options,? he said.

?It?s a good solid product with an extremely efficient furnace, (central) air conditioning and all energy star rated.?

The six buildings are at three different locations with four buildings at the corner of Third and Lincoln streets, one at 309-311 N. Ash St., and the other at 405-407 Cedar St.

?The only difference on Ash Street is that the twin homes there will not have a basement,? Cox added.

The two-family attached dwellings, he said, are designed more like a home with each side having a shared center wall.

?When the homes are finished,? Cox said, ?they will be surveyed and split down the middle.?

In the beginning, the homes will be available for rent, but at the end of 15 years when the tax credits are over, he said they will be offered for sale to the low income tenants if they are qualified to purchase them.

?It?s not a savings account,? he said. ?If a family lives there 10 years, they don?t get credit if they move out. They only get to use the credit to apply toward purchase.?

Citing an example, Cox said that if someone lived in the home the entire 15 years, that family, as a qualified low income tenant, would receive 3 percent off the appraised value each year for the 15 years or a 45 percent discount.

?It?s a great deal,? he said. ?And all (tenants) have to do is live there, take care of the property and learn how to become a homeowner.?An example of the what the final product will look like


These 1,500 square feet homes are being built as tax credit developments, he said.

?The (Hillsboro) homes are almost identical to ones in Parson and Neodesha,? he said.

Cox said he?s been trying for three years to start a development in Hillsboro, and with the investors in place, the project is moving forward.

Using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development tables, families of four making $37,140 or less are eligible for one of these homes, he said.

Families with five people must be making $40,140 or less in order to qualify.

Rent, depending on a family?s income, could be $485 for lower incomes to $525 for higher amounts.

?This is not age restrictive,? he said. ?It is only income restrictive.?

Potential renters who are in the Kansas Section 8 program, also called the housing choice voucher program, are also encouraged to apply, he said.

?We will accept applications with Section 8 vouchers in which the government pays part of the rent and the tenant pays the rest,? Cox said.

One example, he explained, involved a single mother with three children who was a part-time bus driver.

?She had some income, but not a lot. Her rent was $525, and she paid $150 with the government paying the other $375,? he said.

Cox, who was born and raised in Wichita, said he?s been doing these types of projects all over the state.

?When I am asked to help, I go,? he said.

He said he went to Independence after housing was lost after a flood in 2008.

?We had a 28-unit project there,? he said. ?The city of Parsons also called me when they heard (about the work done in Independence).?

He has also completed projects in Coffeyville, several in McPherson, Wichita, Clearwater and more.

?I wouldn?t call myself an expert, but I do know something about this, and we are confident we can help,? he said.


?With the investors in place and the project started,? he said, ?I want to give good props to city of Hillsboro, and single out Mayor Delores Dalke because of her diligence and pa?tience and willingness to cooperate and work with me.?

Along with Dalke, Cox said, he needs to include her staff.

?Everybody in city of Hillsboro has been wonderful to deal with on this.?

For any and all he needed on this project, Cox said the city stepped up to help.

?That speaks volumes because of all their efforts collectively,? he said.

According to Cox, these type of projects take a long time to complete.

?Tax credits are in such high demand,? he said, ?and it?s hard to get them because they are limited.

?There?s about 50 submitted (to HUD), and less than 15 or a 4 to 1 ratio of those get approved.?Floor plan for the twin homes being built by Mark Cox, owner of Vintage Construction, LLC.

The process includes a 22- page application, exhibits and supporting documentation, market studies, Phase?I environmental studies, geo-technical studies, underwriting guidelines matching the state, banks and investors and what HUD wants.

?Everything has to go together,? he said. ?But on the third try we got it approved.

?I told Delores I would get it done, but it took three times.?

Without these tax credits, the type of housing project going on in Hillsboro, and across the country, wouldn?t have been built.

Fred Bentley, director of rental development, Kansas Housing Resources Corporation at Topeka, said his responsibility in the project is administering federal housing programs.

Bentley explained the cost of building housing is getting out of control.

?Everybody is having so much trouble with housing because of these costs, and if there isn?t some sort of subsidy or incentive, then it?s difficult to get it built,? he said.

For developers who do get housing built with tax credits or other incentives, though, the rent would be astronomical, he added.

?Instead of costing between $485-$525, it would be more like $1,000 in rent,? Bentley said.

It is going to be a good comparison to see the differences between market-driven development with no assistance and ones that have it. New banking regulations have tightened up credit and made it more difficult for people to qualify for housing loans, he said.

?Homeownership is more difficult, and there?s more dynamics that make it harder.

?A lot of younger people are not wanting to buy homes because they don?t have enough money to do it, they?re not sure if they want to do it or they are not ready for that responsibility yet,? Bentley said.

Some people even got caught in the financial meltdown when homes sold for higher prices, but now aren?t worth the same amount of money, he said.

Cox is working alongside Mid-Kansas Community Action Program of El Dorado to help people move out of poverty and into independence.

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