Workforce housing being addressed
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Lincoln, Neb (KGFW) - The Business and Labor Committee heard testimony Feb 13 on a bill that would provide grant funds to communities looking to address workforce housing shortages.

Rural communities in counties of fewer than 100,000 people could apply for grant funds under LB518, introduced by Gothenburg Sen. Matt Williams, to build workforce housing. The grants would be funded by a one-time transfer of $12 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund by July 1, 2017, followed by a transfer of $1 million in both 2018 and 2019.

Williams said a lack of adequate housing in rural communities has hindered economic growth and made recruitment of young professionals difficult.

The bill defines workforce housing as an owner-occupied home that costs between $150,000 and $275,000 to construct or rental housing units that cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to construct.

Grants would be available upon application by any nonprofit development organization in an eligible community. The maximum amount awarded would not exceed $2.5 million to any one organization over a two-year period and no more than $5 million through fiscal year 2019-20. Eligible applicants would provide one-to-one matching funds to be considered for a grant under LB518.

Priority would be given to communities that have demonstrated an ongoing need for housing through a housing study, a low unemployment rate, difficulty filling vacancies, a demonstrated commitment to growing their housing markets and potential projects that could be ready for occupancy within two years.

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