The North Bend Eagle

 

North Bend houses
A 2017 housing study suggests North Bend should add 65 housing units by 2022.

Fund hoping to ease housing crunch

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/20/18

• $1.85 million earmarked to spur development in Dodge County.

Finding a place to live in North Bend isn’t easy, but a new fund being established hopes to help ease the housing crunch in North Bend and the rest of Dodge County.

Link to More:

Dodge County Housing Study

A 2017 study looking at housing in Dodge County confirmed what was anecdotally obvious to many: Dodge County is facing a significant shortage of housing, and that’s even before you add in 800 to 1,000 new jobs being brought into the county by the Costco chicken plant being built in Fremont.

To combat the housing shortage, the Greater Fremont Development Council has set up a fund of more than $1.85 million for housing developers to tap into. The Dodge County Investment Fund should be ready to accept applications by August, with one developer in North Bend already showing interest.

“By 2022 we’re going to need a significant increase in housing across Dodge County,” said Garry Clark, the executive director of the Greater Fremont Development Council. “Our job is to help energize and create housing stock here in Dodge County by – I would say by any means necessary, but that’s a little too aggressive. It’s by creating a fund that can gap finance and initiate housing construction.”

Just over $1 million of the fund was raised locally in a matter of four weeks. The city of Fremont kicked in $500,000 and the city of Scribner contributed $50,000. Area businesses including Fremont Beef, Lincoln Premium Poultry (the company that will operate the Costco chicken plant), Fremont Contract Carriers and First National Back also contributed, as did the Fremont Area Community Foundation.

With those funds pledged, the GFDC was able to apply for a matching grant from the state’s Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund. Last month the GFDC was awarded $850,000, nearly doubling the Dodge County Investment Fund.

The fund is to support the development and rehabilitation of workforce housing, which Clark said includes “all gainfully employed workers from the executive level down to the hourly wage worker.”

The DCIF is intended for developers and builders who need a little extra financial boost, perhaps a bit more than their bank will loan. It could also be used to cover initial constructions costs and be repaid once a construction loan comes through.

“We don’t want to replace the banks,” Clark said, “we want to support the banks.”

DCIF loans can be put toward owner-occupied homes that cost $275,000 or less, multi-family rental units with costs less than $200,000, can be used to guarantee a loan, pay for housing rehabilitation or first-time home buyer’s assistance. Clark said the DCIF will have the flexibility to offer very low interest rates on its loans.

“Our goal is to get the houses in the ground, get more homes built,” Clark said. “We’re not going to try to hinder developers by matching the local banks’ interest rates. Our job is just to compliment.”

When the GFDC submitted its application for the matching funds from the state, it had to list eight to 10 projects that were in the pipeline and ready for development in the next year. One of those projects is in North Bend, with a developer expressing interest in moving forward with some assistance from the DCIF. Clark said he hopes there is more to come.

“I’m hopeful that this is just one project,” Clark said, “and once that example is shown to the public, we’ll get a couple more from North Bend and keep it going.”

The 2017 Dodge County housing study, which is linked at northbendeagle.com, says the county should target a total of 858 new housing units by 2022, with 491 of those being owner-occupied and 367 rentals. With the Costco plant figured in, that figure shoots up to 1,508.

The study suggests a target of adding 65 new units in North Bend, with 30 owner-occupied units and 35 rentals, with Costco factored in.

“It’s OK to want to recruit people (to your community),” Clark said, “but you have to have the housing to do it.”

Once the DCIF is ready to take applications in August or September, applications and more information will be found at the Greater Fremont Development Council office and website, and should be available at North Bend City Hall and its website NorthBendNE.com.

 

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