“I felt like I won the lottery,” said McPherson resident Shirley Kelly referring to her experience with McPherson’s housing rehabilitation project. As a recipient of grant dollars from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Kelly was able to upgrade her home. While her original application only requested financial assistance to replace the heating and cooling system, a home evaluation determined the need for much more. Kelly’s home improvements addressed siding, windows, electricity, sewer, ventilation and hv/ac needs. “I just asked for heating and air conditioning, and they gave me so much more,” said Kelly.
The federally funded CDBG program benefits low- to moderate-income families by providing home improvements. The City of McPherson was awarded a $300,000 grant in 2016 with the stipulation home improvement projects be completed in a geographical target area. The City selected the area bounded by Elizabeth Street on the north, Avenue A on the south, Fisher Street on the east and both sides of Main Street frontage property on the west. All work associated with the CDBG program is facilitated by the South Central Kansas Economic Development District (SCKEDD).
Working collaboratively with SCKEDD, the City determines properties eligible for the housing rehabilitation project. To qualify, total household income for all individuals 19 years or older living in the home must be less than the low- to moderate-income guidelines set by HUD. The eligible home must be the primary residence of the application for owner-occupied units. For rental units, the renter must be income-qualified. If the owner of the rental unit is income-qualified, the City will pay 85 percent of the rehabilitation and the owner will be responsible for 15 percent. Rental owners above income guidelines must contribute 25 percent of the rehabilitation costs and must sign a rent-freeze agreement for a three-year period.
Clinton Sides, a local landlord, participated in the first phase of the housing rehabilitation program. “The program is a good way for landlords to improve properties while keeping rents down,” he said. “It’s not just putting a Band-Aid on something. It’s a long-term investment.” Residents and landlords aren’t the only ones who benefit from the rehabilitation process. SCKEDD representative Bill Lampe finds satisfaction in overseeing the overall process. “One of my biggest goals is to help homeowners and property owners lower improvement costs in order to improve living conditions,” said Lampe. “It’s rewarding to be a part of improving homes, especially the homes of seniors and children.”
According to City officials, four houses received upgrades as the result of initial CDBG funding, and another four homes are currently under construction as part of the second rehabilitation phase. The City will use remaining grant dollars to upgrade five to six additional homes, thus completing the first housing rehabilitation project.
The City also intends to apply for a grant in 2018 to support a second housing project. “Affordable housing is a critical need in Kansas, and the City of McPherson is no exception for this need,” noted Mayor Tom Brown. “The CDBG grants enable the improvement of housing that is affordable. We are very fortunate to be selected by the Kansas Department of Commerce and assisted by the South Central Kansas Economic Development District to complete the program implementation.”
The City has begun accepting pre-applications for proposed 2018 CDBG funding, and will choose a target area based on interest from landlords and residents as well as overall neighborhood condition. Once the target area is identified, a public hearing will officially announce the City’s intention to apply for the 2018 housing grant and additional applicants will be sought. Homeowner and landlord pre-applications are available at the City Offices, 400 E. Kansas, or at mcpcity.com/512/CDBG-Documents. For more information about the Community Development Block Grant, contact City Administrator Nick Gregory at 620-245-2535.