YORK COUNTY – The York County Commissioners have agreed to pledge $100,000 from the inheritance fund as a local match for a state housing grant application.
They met with Lisa Hurley, York County Development Corporation (YCDC) director, this week to discuss the idea, which she said was actually brought to her as a suggestion from Commissioner Daniel Grotz.
Grotz represents the county on the YCDC executive board.
“Housing remains a priority in York County,” Hurley said. “We are working with various communities across the county on potential projects. We are working to address the 542 new housing units needed by 2030 in York County. And we have recently received a Rural Workforce Housing Grant (worth $1 million) which will most likely be loaned out for a new subdivision (of smaller houses); however, we are waiting for the application from the developer. During the fundraising process, we had 36 companies and individuals contribute toward the local match and the City of York contributed $250,000 bringing the total contributions to $543,260. We needed $500,000 and to me, this shows the business community supporting the need, as this is the second time they have contributed for housing (a total of over $800,000). With the two grants, we have a revolving loan focused on housing growth of over $2 million, which will revolve for decades. Around $800,000 of that is tied into a long-term loan for an apartment complex and our goal moving forward is to do short-term financing so the funds flip more quickly.
“We have also been able to connect and advocate for additional programs in York County, such as the owner-occupied housing funds for which the county was the applicant. That’s getting close to wrapping up now,” Hurley continued, “and we have worked with several communities regarding TIF for housing.
“Our first rural workforce housing effort was very successful with sub-contractors from throughout the county being utilized on the project,” she said. “In fact, the developer told me they had never worked with as many local sub-contractors as they did here, which is something we push for, to keep the money circulating here. We have just approved our first reuse project, which will be a major renovation and sale.
“YCDC has spent a lot of time in our smaller communities trying to get other projects moving,” Hurley said. “We sometimes have to be more creative with those, as it is harder to get a developer into the smaller communities. We have two potential projects in Bradshaw (new housing areas), potential infill lots (cleaning up a lot and then putting new construction on the parcel) in Gresham and Waco, and subdivision projects in McCool and Henderson where either the communities or a contractor could utilize these low-interest funds.”
She said YCDC also supported Henderson’s subdivision efforts and inclusion in the Southeast Nebraska Affordable Housing Council’s rural workforce housing application and award. “I have visited with the mayor and the city clerk in Henderson about being able to access funds for spec houses in the new subdivision they are working on.”
This where the new grant application comes in, to help with housing projects in the smaller communities in York County. If the grant were awarded, the state guidelines and the YCDC plan would allow the funds to be loaned out for new owner-occupied housing costing no more than $325,000; new rental housing units costing no more than $250,000 (per door); owner-occupied or rental housing units for which the cost to substantially rehabilitate exceeds 50% of a unit’s assessed value; upper-story housing; and rehabilitation/conversion of an existing building into housing.
Hurley said the newest grant application requires a 25% local match instead of a 50% mach.
So the larger the local match that is pledged, the higher amount YCDC can apply for.
“It would help us move projects forward,” if the grant was awarded.
“The grant application is due on Dec. 7 and I’ve already submitted a letter of intent, as it was required,” Hurley said. “If we are going to apply, we will need to move on it soon. As the YCDC executive committee already decided, we won’t be doing any fundraising again from the business community” as that faction of the county has already far exceeded its generosity with the match for the earlier grant.
“We are talking about rural housing opportunities in all of our nine communities in the county,” said Commissioner Randy Obermier. “I did have a question as to who controls this money, if it’s granted. That would be the YCDC executive committee and we have a seat on that committee. Correct?”
Hurley said yes, that is the case.
“Right now, we have to create housing units,” Hurley said. “We have 400-600 open jobs in the county each month and we don’t have enough variety of affordable housing.”
Commissioner Jack Sikes asked how many houses are currently for sale in the county. Hurley said the last time she checked the number was about 30 with over half of those being under $100,000 and in need of work.
“For me, the smartest place to take this money from is the inheritance fund as people have paid in on assets and this is to build assets in the county,” Grotz said.
Hurley noted ARPA funds cannot be used for this.
And the county’s budget is already formulated for the fiscal year.
“Inheritance tax funds would be the ticket,” Obermier said. “I look at this as being county-wide so the county would be making the payment for all the communities. I’m going to throw out an amount of $100,000, make a motion to that effect.”
There was also discussion about how fast housing properties sell, as the commissioners and Hurley said some properties don’t even make it to market as they are sold before they are even listed.
“This would be seed money to address this housing issue,” said Commissioner Woody Ziegler.
“Just to maintain our existing population, we need to build housing,” Hurley said.
All five commissioners voted in favor of pledging the $100,000 local match for the grant application.
“We want to see all the towns involved,” Obermier said. “We want that to be encouraged.”
“They will need to apply,” Hurley said. “We are doing our best to encourage that.”