Urban Affairs

Bill would increase workforce housing caps

The Urban Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 28 on a bill that would update provisions under the Middle Income Workforce Housing Investment Act.

The act was established in 2020 to provide matching grants to nonprofit development organizations that administer local workforce housing investment funds. Funds are awarded for investment in Nebraska’s older urban and minority neighborhoods in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties.

Sen. Danielle Conrad
Sen. Danielle Conrad

Currently, the act defines workforce housing as owner-occupied housing units whose construction costs did not exceed $275,000, including the value of the lot. The definition also includes owner-occupied housing units for which the cost of substantial rehabilitation exceeds 50 percent of the unit’s assessed value before construction, and has an assessed value between $125,000 and $275,000 after rehabilitation.

LB462, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, would increase the cap on construction costs to $330,000 and remove the lot value from consideration. Conrad said the bill would provide more flexibility by taking into account inflation rates and increasing real property costs.

LB462 would help communities better use funds for their intended purpose of expanding affordable housing for middle-income Nebraskans, she said.

‘Talking to 8,000 of my friends and neighbors in North Lincoln … every conversation kept coming back to workforce,” Conrad said.

Affordable housing developer Ward Hoppe spoke in support of the bill, saying the current cost restrictions in state law combined with the high price of lots has made it difficult for developers to build. It is almost impossible to find a lot in Lincoln for less than $75,000, he said, which leaves developers with less than $200,000 to build a home.

“Builders can’t build houses for the amount of money that’s set forth in the program,” Hoppe said. “We need to change the definition … so that we can use the program.”

No one testified in opposition to LB462 and the committee took no immediate action.

Bookmark and Share