Grants to address rural housing shortage authorized

Grant funds for communities looking to address workforce housing shortages were authorized under legislation passed April 24.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist36' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Matt Williams'>Sen. Matt Williams</a>
Sen. Matt Williams

Under LB518, introduced by Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams, rural communities in counties of fewer than 100,000 people can apply for grant funds to build workforce housing. Workforce housing is defined as an owner-occupied home that costs no more than $275,000 to construct or a rental housing unit that cost no more than $200,000 to construct.

Grants will be available to nonprofit development organizations in eligible communities. The maximum amount awarded may not exceed $1 million to any one organization over a two-year period and no more than $2 million through fiscal year 2020-21. Eligible applicants must provide one-to-one matching funds to be considered for a grant.

Priority will be given to communities that have demonstrated an ongoing need for housing through a housing study, a low unemployment rate, difficulty filling vacancies, a demonstrated commitment to growing their housing markets and potential projects that could be ready for occupancy within two years.

The bill also creates the Rural Workforce Investment Fund, which will be funded by a one-time transfer of $7 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

LB518 passed on a 49-0 vote.

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