BY JIM MISUNAS
MACKSVILLE — The last time Macksville developed a moderate income rental housing project was 1948.
The moderate-housing duplex in the 100 block of South Higgins is available for rent or purchase. Stafford County EcoDevo acquired the lot in Macksville through a Stafford County tax sale.
St. John’s Troy Willinger Construction served as the general contractor. The construction of the duplex started in April and was built using funds from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Each unit in the duplex is listed to rent at $700 per month. Interested parties may be able to buy the duplex, according to Carolyn Dunn, Stafford County economic development director.
Contact Dunn (620-549-3527) for applications for the property. The process involves a background check and income verification.
“The housing will accommodate families in different stages of life from a family with children to a family who wants to move to town,” she said. “We know there is a demand for housing for families. One example provided by the former superintendent was that Macksville USD 350 hired five new staff in 2011, and none of them resided in Macksville because of a lack of housing.”
Nearby street and utility infrastructure was available, which helped lower the cost of development.
Dunn said several families in the county have chosen alternative solutions for their housing. She said young professional families have taken to temporarily living in homes that don’t suit their needs, or staying with family in the search for suitable housing. Others simply choose not to relocate to the area.
Stafford County Economic Development owns the land and constructed the duplex through a partnership with Stafford County. The housing project qualified for Community Service Tax Credits through the Kansas Department of Commerce and a Moderate Income Housing Grant through the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.
“The project is accomplished with no debt,” she said. “We have funding in place for a second property to be located in Stafford. We’ll build one at a time.”
The floor plan showcases a large family room, three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, with ample closet and storage space in 2,080 square feet of living space. A large open living room and kitchen space occupy the main level. There are hardwood floors, an attached garage and a finished basement. Windows are high efficiency double pane. The on-demand water heater is energy efficient. It eliminates the need for a traditional water heater. The water is rapidly heated as it is called for reducing energy costs.
Stafford County Economic Development Inc. of St. John, will eventually turn $175,000 in Kansas Community Service Tax Credits from the Kansas Department of Commerce into more than $250,000 of local housing investment.
Investors are qualified donors who give $1,000 will receive a 70 percent (or $700) tax credit against their Kansas income tax liability. Donors also earn federal tax benefits if they itemize, which would again decrease their tax liability.
The next project will be built in Stafford in 2015 with the help of tax credits. The Stafford City Council has donated two lots. Stafford developed its last moderate income rental housing project in 1956.
“There are still tax credits for 2014 available so we welcome contributors,” Dunn said. “For most businesses or individuals, the amount contributed to this program is about the same as would otherwise be paid in state and federal taxes. It’s a great way to be able to see, locally, what your part of the taxes are doing.”
A rental housing shortage in Stafford County was indicated through a housing assessment template provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank.
While some houses are vacant, there was a lack of sufficient rental housing. The 2,067 houses in Stafford County have an average age of 83 years. Just 3 percent of the inventory has been built in the last 20 years, and over 80 percent of the housing inventory ranks in less than “good” condition according to the Stafford County appraiser.
Thirty-five units in the county were designed as rental units for the general population — not retirement or HUD housing units.