Ashland news

ASHLAND – A program to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes in Saunders County has received $500,000 in grant funds.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced the recipients of over $7.5 million in funding through the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF) for 2019.

The City of Ashland, acting as the lead applicant for a Saunders County program, will receive $500,000 for a housing rehabilitation program planned for multiple communities. The Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) helped with the grant application.

A total of five communities in the county are collaborating on the project. Ashland, Wahoo, Prague, Yutan and Ceresco will split the $500,000.

The grant provides up to $24,999 per household for rehabilitation of owner-occupied homes. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements, including income, assets, and home ownership. Mobile homes and rental properties are not eligible.

Each village board of trustees or city council in these communities had to commit to a 10 percent cash match for the project. Ashland and Wahoo each will match $15,750 for a total of five projects in each community. Yutan’s match will be $12,600 for four projects. Ceresco and Prague have been designated two projects each, which will cost their village $9,450 each.

Wahoo City Administrator Melissa Harrell said the matching funds will be a part of the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget.

She told the city council at its July 25 meeting that the pre-application phase for this grant saw interest from 20 to 30 homeowners.

Pre-applications were received from 10 homeowners in Ashland, five in Yutan and five in Ceresco.

Homeowners who meet the criteria for grant dollars will now have to apply one more time to become a part of the program. Harrell said there would be a scoring system used to determine which five homes will be selected in Wahoo. Need will be one of the weighted factors for scoring.

“We’ll be working through the process, then there will be an inspection of the home,” she added.

Harrell said the City of Wahoo would continue to look at other possible Community Development Block Grants as a way to help those homeowners who do not get selected for this round of funding.

Ashland City Administrator Jessica Quady said she will meet with officials from SENDD and DED on Aug. 15 to discuss the program. The deadline for the final applications will be set then.

A total of 54 pre-applications were submitted in Saunders County in April. Because there was so much interest, SENDD applied for the maximum grant of $500,000, rather than the $315,000 that had been originally planned.

Administered by DED on behalf of the State of Nebraska, the NAHTF supports the development of quality, affordable housing in communities throughout the state. This, in turn, promotes economic growth by empowering communities to attract and retain families and the workforce.

“The availability of housing influences our ability to attract people and job creators to our state,” said DED Director Dave Rippe. “There’s no shortage of families and young professionals who choose small- or medium-sized Nebraska communities for their terrific quality of life. But finding a home can be a challenge. Small towns can compete equally with cities for young professionals and families, but they must invest in and develop the resources to do so. The NAHTF is a statewide resource and investment tool that helps empower communities to address their housing needs.”

DED accepted applications for the 2019 NAHTF program year until late April. Eligible recipients include local governments, community action agencies, nonprofits, public housing authorities and for-profit developers and contractors working with another eligible applicant. Eligible activities range from the construction of new owner-occupied or rental units to existing unit rehabilitation, down payment assistance programs and non-profit technical assistance.

DED awarded 21 NAHTF applications through the 2019 annual program cycle to 17 separate communities and organizations, with awards totaling $7,571,750. Later this year, the agency is slated to award an additional $3 million under the NAHTF Disaster Recovery Housing Project Cycle, which was implemented in the wake of the March flooding. The agency also awarded approximately $1.35 million this year to three recipients under the unique NAHTF Innovative Housing Demonstration Program.

More information about the NAHTF program can be found at https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/nebraska-affordable-housing-trust-fund/.

(Staff Reporter Lisa Brichacek contributed to this report)

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