Financing Tools Deliver Sustainable Impact on Nebraska Housing Demand
1 Aug 2023
Aiming to keep up with the high demand for housing, the State of Nebraska created the Rural Workforce Housing Fund (RWHF) program as a tool to help communities incentivize housing development. Currently in progress with funds managed by Twin Cities Development (TCD), the program is already seeing improved housing in the communities within the three-county area of Kimball, Scotts Bluff and Morrill Counties.
“We hope to promote housing development and quality in our area for our current and future workforce,” says Jordan Diedrich, TCD executive director. “Increasing our housing will enhance our workforce capacity, which will help us grow our existing businesses and attract new ones.”
TCD has a $3.3 million Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to provide additional opportunities for contractors and developers to improve housing in these communities. In 2020 and 2023, TCD was awarded grant funds to help provide low-interest, short-term loans in the form of the RLF. To date, $1,815,697.59 has been allocated to projects with 12 rehab and three new construction projects. Four of the rehab houses have been sold and the money paid back into the fund for a total of $189,500. One of the projects will be a container home neighborhood development that will kick off within the next couple of years.
“Western Nebraska Economic Development (WNED) had a regional housing study completed in August 2022. The study showed that we have a need for over 500 houses in Scotts Bluff County alone,” said Diedrich. “That is over 100 houses per year. Plenty of people want to move to our area, so we have a high demand for new and rehabbed housing.”
RWHF provides continual investment in workforce housing projects and is intended to perpetuate for continued use and provide sustainable impact to address housing needs. Eligible activities include:
- New construction of owner-occupied or rental housing in a community with demonstrated workforce housing needs
- Substantial repair or rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock for which the cost to rehabilitate exceeds 50 percent of the current assessed value
- Upper-story housing development
- Rehabilitation that includes the conversion of an existing building into housing.
“We really want to bring attention to developers, builders and house flippers,” adds Diedrich. “We want to showcase the opportunity for great housing projects in our area. We also want to share the success of our program with our community members and stakeholders.”
The application is available at www.tcdne.org. People can apply by filling out the application, including the required additional documentation, and sending it to email@example.com or bringing it to the TCD office. It requires a fully complete application, project summary, timeline for construction, experience and background, site plan for new construction, sources of additional funds and more to be submitted to the RWHF committee. There is no deadline for the application. Approval of funding depends on application strength and available funds.