Two years ago, the city commissioned a housing needs study as part of its application for a Rural Housing Incentive District, a tax-credit program. The study 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.
According to the study, there were 6,483 total occupied housing units in Great Bend at the time. There were also 630 vacant homes, empty for various reason.
In 2013, over half of the current houses dated back to 1959 and earlier. In the past five and a half years prior to the study, there had been only 22 new single-family homes built and 13 senior-living duplexes. There had been no apartments built for 35 years.
Well, that has all changed. Great Bend has made great strides.
There are new homes in Amber Meadows and StoneRidge and there are new apartments in the form of the Reserves at Trailridge.
To the city’s credit, it has long identified a housing shortage as a bane for growth.
Now, we have a chance to build more homes through a grant being applied for by Vicky Dayton of Housing Opportunities Inc. She wants to apply for a $175,000 grant from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation for moderately price residences.
The money would proved $25,000 down payments for seven home buyers. There is also a chance of tax credits through the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
But, she needs help from the community, help that has been slow to arrive.
Her deadline to apply for these funds is Nov. 13. She was wanting 30 letters of support from local businesses and 20 letters of interest from families to make her case. Sadly, she has only received three of each.
Dayton wanted the letters by this past Friday, that way she would have plenty of time to write the grant. However, she is extending her collection period for another week and pleading with business owners to step forward.
“We want to hear from our local businesses to prove there is a need,” Dayton said. She has to convince the KHRC that the new housing would lead to economic development.
“How disappointing it would be for our community to not step up and embrace that this is what we need and have this money,” she said.
She has done her homework and is convinced Great Bend stands a good chance to receive this money. But, we can win if we don’t play.