County Commission discusses loan for housing development

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
The Finney County Administrative Center is located in the 300 block of North Ninth Street.

The Finney County Commission discussed loaning money to a developer for a potential housing development that would add about 300 units.

Lona DuVall, president/CEO of Finney County Economic Development Corporation, said the project would be made possible through the USDA Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants program.

Located at North Third Street., the Hunters Glen development with OIKOS Development Corporation, would be duplexes, possibly some four-plexes, but most likely just duplexes with attached garages, a community center and possibly a childcare facility, DuVall said.

The requested amount for the development is $125,000 and would be repaid by Nov. 30, 2021. The funds would come from the joint Finney County and Garden City Deal Closing fund. 

The Commission voted 4-1 to approve the loan subject to a review and funding procurement by their next meeting, with Commissioner Lon Pishny dissenting.

Pishny said he would favor doing the project as long as additional research was done to make sure that the county can legally, according to statute, loan out money from the fund rather than giving it out for projects as they have in the past.

Money from the Deal Closing Fund have been used in the past for job creation incentive, such as for Tex-OK-Kan and Worthington Industries. It's also been used to assist Kanamak Hydraulics with their fire suppression system during their expansion.

DuVall said the project qualifies for the Farm Labor Housing Program because the housing is intended for people who work in agriculture related fields which include empirical foods, Tyson, truck drivers who drive for agricultural purposes, etc.

"It's a very broad scope that pretty much anybody who's job can be tracked to agriculture is qualified to live in this housing," she said.

Who is able to live in these residences is highly monitored, DuVall said. The potential tenants have to fill out fairly lengthy applications that show who they work for and what kind of work they're engaged in and their income levels.

Also, this particular program controls the rent, keeping it and utilities below a certain percentage of their total incomes, DuVall said. 

"This is truly an affordable housing project, the rent and utilities are capped at a maximum I believe 40% or 30% of their total income," she said. 

Commissioner Dave Jones said the situation fits a chicken and egg analogy, as the county needs more housing and workers but it's hard to get one without the other.

"We need more eggs so we can produce more chicken," he said. "We need more workers but we have to produce some housing to get them. It's something that's needed, that's for sure."