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Larned, Pawnee County to apply for moderate income housing money
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By Jim Misunas

LARNED — The Pawnee County Economic Development Commission and the city of Larned is applying for state housing funding that would develop new rental, multi-family, and single-family housing units in the city and Pawnee County.
The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation has requested that communities apply for the Kansas Moderate Income Housing funds to help build moderate income and improve housing for rural Kansas communities. KHRC expects to provide $2.75 million in funding.
The PCEDC housing subcommittee met July 3 at the Chamber office to determine if Pawnee County and Larned would apply and the type of product needed in the community.
“We determined that both rental and single family housing is needed, but the final product to be build will be determined later,” said Courtland Holman, Chamber director and PCEDC director. “Because the application is very broad we do not need a housing study to be completed by a consultant or via community for this round.  What is required is showing support and need.”
Pawnee County has been designated as a Rural Opportunity Zone due to population loss in the county.  
“Approving this application will facilitate new investments, increase economic development efforts and fill our many vacant jobs within Pawnee County,” Holman said. “We believe the approval of this application is crucial in funding much needed new housing and as a way for Larned to fill the local job vacancies.”  
Holman said low income housing has already been identified as a need in Pawnee County and through housing developers, such as Housing Opportunities Incorporated, that need is already being filled.
The Larned Dream Homes Affordable Housing Project has built six affordable family houses. The city of Larned purchased the properties and the Larned Housing Authority used tax credits to assist with the project. Mesner Development Company, Central City, Neb., performed the application process and financing work. Mesner has done work with Housing Opportunities, Inc. of Great Bend. Holman serves on the HOI board.
The Chamber maintains a data base of available houses, apartments and mobile homes available in Larned with contact phone numbers. Call the Larned Chamber (620) 285-6916 for information.
“What is lacking is quality wage appropriate housing for the 60 percent moderate income wage earner and above segment of our population,” he said.
Holman said a study by PCEDC in August 2011 has identified that more than 40 percent of the 1,100 plus state employees commute from outside of Pawnee County, partially attributed to the lack of available housing.
“Due to recent funding approval at the state level for SRS, the Larned State Hospital will be opening a 60-bed wing and rehabilitate/ reopen a building for incarcerated individuals,” Holman said. “The Larned State Hospital is in a growth mode hiring many new employees that will require both rental and single-family housing.  Additionally, the PCEDC is attracting new business and second tier business expansions that will require additional housing.”
Holman is encouraging local patrons to read, modify, sign and return to the Chamber support letters that will be used in the application that is due by Aug. 31. Additional criteria will need to be met as well. Information is available at the Chamber office, 502 Broadway.
“As there is a lot of work to be accomplished in a short period of time I would like your signed support letters as soon as you can provide them,” Holman said. “I will be asking other Chamber members as well but as major employers in the community your support is critical.”
Kansas Housing Resources Corporation is a public corporation that administers federal and state housing programs on behalf of the State of Kansas. KHRC programs address single and multifamily housing development, homeowner rehabilitation, down payment assistance for first-time home buyers, rental assistance and housing with supportive services.
KHRC administers the State Housing Trust Fund, a statutorily created fund with the stated purpose of supporting housing programs and services. While limited in resources, KHRC has historically utilized the SHTF to provide loans and grants for affordable housing development.
Recently, Kansas communities and employers have stressed a growing need for affordable moderate income housing (MIH), defined for purposes of this RFP as housing for households between 60 and 150 percent of HUD’s state non-metro area media income.
MIH is vital for economic development, yet difficult to achieve given that most federal housing programs serve a lower income bracket, and market supply is limited due to high development costs, low appraisals, and tight lending conditions.
Under the legislation, KHRC shall only use the funds for loans or grants to cities or counties for infrastructure or housing development in rural areas.