The Garden City Telegram
10/27/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Homes push

Program gives welcome assist amid local housing shortage.

Garden City's shortage of affordable housing remains a pressing issue.

It's been such a problem that local officials have explored various strategies to mitigate costs and spur new home building — and without much success of late, unfortunately.

With that in mind, it was encouraging to hear of a new plan for home development in the city, a project to be aided by a state program designed to spur such ventures in rural parts of Kansas.

A site plan recently submitted by Missouri-based Vogel Properties calls for 17 single-family homes and 13 duplex units in a housing development on 11 acres near Garden City High School.

A welcome assist for the project came in a $300,000 grant from the Kansas Moderate Income Housing Program, in place to help cities and counties develop new infrastructure and housing.

The program administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. (KHRC) provides local governments with funding to use as incentives that encourage home construction. Grant funds may go toward such new infrastructure as streets, water, sewer and other utilities.

With $2.3 million set aside this year by the Kansas Legislature, the KHRC fielded requests from a number of communities looking to alleviate a shortage of housing for people with moderate incomes — teachers, health-care workers and others starting their careers, for example. The new housing planned near GCHS should appeal to teachers moving into town in particular.

Like Garden City, other communities in the region know it's difficult to bring new businesses and professionals to town with insufficient housing. Workers need choices in short-term or permanent family residences.

Competition for the moderate-income-housing grants understandably was fierce, with 32 applications from 27 counties in the state, including a number in western Kansas. Garden City was among eight communities selected to share in available state funding.

Those who would question the use of such incentives locally should know the dollars could have gone elsewhere in Kansas.

Indeed, seeing a local project receive a financial assist that generates activity at a time too little has happened on the home-building front has to be considered a welcome development.