Marion awarded $125,000 grant to build 5 homes

Pictured is one of the 10 duplexes in the Victory Plaza housing project along Eisenhower Drive in Marion. The Victory Plaza duplexes were built for senior citizens and were low-income tested.The city of Marion was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation last week to build five new homes on the east side of Coble Street, north of Sherman Street.

The presentation was made Dec. 19 by Fred Bentley, director of rental development with KHRC and Marion Mayor Todd Heit­schmidt.

“The (grant) money will assist in fulfilling yet another need identified in our housing assessment, completed by a team of (12) citizen-volunteers in 2016,” Heit­schmidt said.

Bentley said KHRC’s moderate income housing program serves the needs of families who cannot afford market-rate housing, and who don’t qualify for federal housing assistance.

Market-rate housing is any apartment without rent restrictions, which in turn allows landlords who own the housing to rent at whatever price the local market will bear, Bently said.

The need for moderate income (workforce) housing in Kansas is great. Currently, 97 counties and more than 600 communities statewide have a population of less than 60,000 eligible to apply for the MIH program.

“These communities make up 68 percent of the state’s total popula­tion,” Bentley said.

Since the MIH program was created in 2012 by the Kansas Legislature, the number communities receiving funding has increased. In 2012, seven com­munities received a grant; nine in 2013; 10 in 2014; 11 in 2015; and 13 in 2016.

Randy Collett, Marion’s economic development director, explained how this grant funding fits into the Marion’s overall vision.

“This is the classic case of planning the work and working the plan,” he said. “These modest homes will target not only existing families who want to grow their families without necessarily moving, but city officials also believe these homes will add to Marion’s attractiveness for prospective employers and employees thinking of relocating to our community.”

Applications in 2018

Beginning in March 2018, Collett said applications will be accepted to participate in a builder, developer, lender, owner incentive program.

The total eligible incentives is up to $25,000 for construction and occupancy of a moderate-income family home, he said.

Roger Holter, Marion city administrator, the grant was a direct outcome from the housing assessment teams review.

“Our vision said we needed better housing, both for families with low and moderate income, he said. “The low income was for senior citizens and we also needed senior housing that wasn’t completely tied to income.”

Based on the assessment team’s recommendations, the city was able to have the atrium revamped at September I, and it’s still income tested, he said.

The Victory Plaza duplexes are senior housing and low-income tested.

Then the city was able to remodel all the units in September II, he said.

“It is still senior housing, but it’s not income tested, so a senior, regardless of their income, can now have a one or two bedroom patio-type home with all the maintenance provided,” he said.

The next piece was the moderate-income, with the target customer being educators, governmental or manufacturing workers.

“They need housing that gives them the ability to expand, but at the same time it still leaves a lot of young families unable to get into their own home because of the down payments,” he said. “This is where we tried to do a USDA Community Development Block Grant.”

But that one would only include low-income families, which is why the city found a partnership with KHRC, he said.

Partnership win-win

“Through a partnership between the city of Marion and KHRC, we could open up that spread,” Holter said.

With KHRC, the city can offer a two-income household with two parents and up to three children on an income as high as $111,000 or as low as $32,888 and be included in the program.

“We see this as an opportunity to open up,” he said.

Holter added that through an action the Dec. 4 council meeting, the city owns an area on Coble Street and the council voted to move forward with the platting project.

“There will be 10 possible homebuilding sites to help support people willing to build this new moderate-income home for their family.

“However, let’s say there aren’t five families saying they want to be signed up for this,” Holter said. “We still have the option to work with developers and builders.”

In fact, Holter noted that those builders and developers can get incentives and, at the same time, the city can get a couple of spec houses built so when applications coming in later, families can still be given incentives.

The developer and or builder can have an incentive of up to $10,000 in financial support and nearly free land, Collett said.

As for the homeowner, up to $15,000 in assistance for closing costs and down payments can be awarded along with the property tax rebate program. In addition, the home buyer can also get assistance for loan qualification.

Heitschmidt said: “We anticipate this grant will generate over $600,000 in construction and labor dollars that will be spent in our community.

“The city of Marion looks forward to fulfilling the confidence KHRC has placed in us with this grant.”

For more information, call Collett at 620-381-0592.

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