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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

County housing program gets additional money from state

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

The Linn County Housing Incentives program would help in demolishing homes past repair or in helping owners sell long-term vacant houses. (Journal file photo)

MOUND CITY – Linn County Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower informed the county commission on Monday, June 12, that the state had given all the counties who had a rural champion grant an extra $20,000 to put on the program.

In Linn County’s case, half of the money is to pay for another six months of part-time employment for the rural champion. The other half is to go toward setting up a housing program for the county.

Jessica Hightower said the program she and the county’s housing champion Darcy Wilson were working on would inject $44,000 into the county’s housing market. Called Linn County Housing Incentives, the program would help boost housing by:

• Demolition Assistance - Reimbursing up to $2,500 to homeowners that clear a blighted property and they also have to plan to develop a new home or they have to sell it to someone with those plans for demolition. Matching funds are on a one-to-one basis with both cash and in-kind matches being eligible.

• Long-term Vacant - Reimbursing owners $2,500 for properties that had been vacant for 12 months or longer. Under that plan, the owner has to sell the vacant home to someone who is going to live in it. Funds are to reimburse any costs to get it to sell. Matching funds are a one-to-one basis, and both cash and in-kind are eligible.

• Painting Homes in Linn County - Reimbursing homeowners up to $500 for paint and painting supplies if they were purchased in Linn County. Matching funds are on a one-to-one basis, and both cash and in-kind contributions are eligible.

Of the $44,000 budget, $10,000 would come from the Rural Prosperity Department, she proposed that $12,000 would come from the economic development budget, and the remaining $22,000 would be the match from the local homeowners.

Commissioner Jason Hightower suggested that the county start out the program with just the $10,000 and see how it goes before committing more money to the program. The other commissioners agreed.

Jessica Hightower also asked commissioners again if they would contract with Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission (SEKRPC) to write the grant for the third round of the moderate income housing (MIH) grant which would if awarded would bring $650,000 into the county to help build MIH in Linn County.

Jessica Hightower brought this contract to the commissioners last week, and they were still considering whether to hire SEKRPC to write the grant. She had explained to the commissioners that the county would have a much better chance in receiving the grant if SEKRPC wrote it. She said that it was a very competitive grant and very involved and when she had written it for the first round there were several items that were missing.

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