By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
There have been some recent changes to the city’s housing incentive programs for both the single and multi-family units.
With the new changes, the incentive for building a single family home is $5,000 and the multi-family incentive is $3,000 per unit with a limit of 100 units per year.
The changes came after a 2012 land survey showed that there was an increasing need for rental properties. The new incentives were then approved during the May 13 city commission meeting.
“It’s really unique to Liberal. There aren’t any other incentives like this, so we’re trying it out and it’s new,” Karen LaFreniere, housing and community development director, said. “We’ve just been short for several years – we’ve done several housing surveys that have shown us the prior years of housing surveys never really pointed towards rental homes and now they’re starting to show that we need more rental homes, updated, more desirable rentals.”
With the single family dwellings, they will receive the incentive after the house is completed, by either the homeowner or developer (if it’s a speculative home) and then will have to fill out an application, where they will provide the necessary paperwork, and they’ll also have the final date and have to be ready for occupancy as certified by the building requirements.
The multi-family dwelling incentive program also underwent extensive revisions thanks to the city commission’s request to look more into multi-family dwellings, such as duplexes, fourplexes and other apartment buildings. One of the big changes was raising the incentive from only $1,000 per unit to $3,000 per unit.
Jeff Parsons, director of economic development, said the process of getting the incentives for the multi-family dwellings is a simple process for interested parties.
“We had the incentives, basically, all in one package, and we decided just to make it easier and a little less complicated and easier to understand and work with,” Parsons said. “We, basically, split the single family and the multi-family into separate policies because they deal with two separate processes.”
LaFreniere said there had been an incentive program in place in the past but it was somewhat restrictive in the size and cost of the dwelling. She also emphasized that the housing is not income-based, and anyone can participate.
“It was discussion amongst staff and trying to see what do we have – what kind of resources do we have for one thing – because this is all being funded out of the 1-cent sales tax, so you have to weigh how much do we have to work with,” Parsons added. “You can’t just throw a checkbook at the deal. You have to be careful about how you do it, so you have to weigh it to where it’s significant enough to help and work, yet you have to be responsible enough with the amount of money you give to it. So finding that balance took a while.”
For people interested in either incentive program, they need only to contact LaFreniere (who’s in charge of the single family program) and Parsons (who’s in charge of the multi-family program) to get the application and the rest of the process started.