Rural Nebraska officials say they have a serious problem, which is hampering economic development: a lack of affordable housing for new workers.
A bill passed this legislative session and signed into law hopes to help.
Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg, sponsor of Legislative Bill 518, says it will dedicate $7.3 million of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help pay for the construction of workforce housing in rural Nebraska.
Under the measure, non-profit development agencies will be able to apply for grants from the fund for rural housing projects. Grants must be matched on a one-to-one basis.
“So, we’re talking nearly $15 million that can be spread around the state, focused on either single-family dwellings, rental units, or rehabbing existing units in a community,” according to Williams. “Many of our communities, especially rural communities, have older homes that could be and will with this program be rehabbed to become suitable workforce housing.”
Grants will be made available to counties with populations under 100,000 to build single-family houses worth up to $275,000 or rental units up to $200,000.
Williams says some areas of the state have greater needs than others.
“The answer to that is ‘yes.’ There are some that are developing faster than others, but virtually every rural area that I have talked to has a need,” Williams says.
The maximum amount awarded to a single organization is $1 million per year, no more than $2 million through fiscal year 2020-21.
Communities demonstrating an ongoing need for housing will be given top priority.