Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington could hardly contain himself Thursday afternoon. He had just gotten word from the Kansas Department of Commerce that the city’s application for a Rural Housing Incentive District had been approved.
“I am very excited,” he said. There were two housing developers interested in Great Bend, but their projects were contingent up upon the RHID being in place.
This was important to the new housing endeavor, he said. The City Council identified the housing shortage as its top priority.
An RHID is a KDC program designed to aid developers by assisting in the financing through tax credits. RHIDs are available for any small- to medium-sized city in Kansas.
Partington had already contacted Ross Vogel, owner of Employer Housing Partners LLC, who wants to construct six market-rate four-plexes, and Matt Gillam of Overland Properties who wants to build a subsidized apartment complex. Both companies are out of the Kansas City Area.
“They said our application and needs analysis were very strong,” Partington said of the KDC notification. “We didn’t have to make any changes.”
Commerce Secretary Pat George, in his letter to the city, said the application met the requirements of the RHID program and showed:
• There is a shortage of quality housing, including affordable single family and multi-family apartment units, at various price ranges in Great Bend despite the best efforts of public and private housing developers;
• The shortage of quality housing can be expected to persist and that additional financial incentives are necessary in order to encourage the private sector to construct or renovate housing development in Great Bend;
• The shortage of quality housing is a substantial deterrent to the future economic growth and development of Great Bend
• The future economic well-being of Great Bend depends on the governing body providing additional incentives for the construction or renovation of quality housing in Great Bend.
On Oct. 21, the Great Bend City Council approved the submission of the city’s RHID application to the commerce department.
The application included an extensive housing study that quantified the need for housing at different levels and types. It also verified the shortage is expected to worsen if no incentives are put in place, and that the shortage is detrimental to the community’s growth.
In a related matter, the City Council on Jan. 6 will discuss support for an application for housing tax credits. Separate from the RHID, these have been a requirement developers.