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LaFreniere discusses Liberal’s housing programs PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:32

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By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



City of Liberal Housing Director Karen LaFreniere has been with the city for 10 years and in that time, housing throughout the city has changed and evolved.  



Q: Could you give some background on yourself? (i.e. how long you’ve been with the City of Liberal, how you got started with the housing department, etc.)

A: I’ve worked with the City for 10 years, and I’ve been the Housing Director for 10 years. 



Q: As the Housing Director, what are some of the things you’re in charge of?

A: I’m in charge of the housing programs. When I came to work here, they had a very specific goal of implementing the Focus on the Future Committee’s requests, so my job really revolves around those requests made by Focus on the Future. We’ve implemented all those programs. 



Q: In your time as Housing Director, what are some changes you’ve noticed about housing in Liberal?

A: We’ve met the demand for rental housing by implementing the Moderate Income Housing Grant we got and the Rural Housing Incentive Districts have also really helped with that. We were short on rentals and apartments, multi-family housing, and we’ve pretty much met that need. Single-family housing is still something we need not because we’re short of it right now, but because a lot of our housing stock has aged and we need new housing stock. 



Q: What are some past projects you would say you’re particularly proud of?

A: I’m proud of the fact we’ve implemented all the programs requested by the Focus on the Future Committee. Self-Help Housing, we’ve done 65 homes and we’re doing 10 more with this grant we have now. We help hundreds of people every year with the Senior Housing Program and the First-Time Homebuyer Program and the Safe at Home Program and the Paint the Town Program. Those are programs that have been implemented as requested by the city manager because they were requested by the Focus on the Future Committee. 



Q: What are some projects you have going on right now?

A: Right now, we’re building Self-Help Housing homes on Purdue Street, we have houses going there, we have four Self-Help Housing homes going up on Jewell Street. Senior Housing programs are still ongoing, we do weatherization work, emergency repairs, that sort of thing. First-Time Homebuyer Program is ongoing and the Paint the Town Program will start up again in April. 



Q: With the programs offered through the City of Liberal, how many people use them? What would you say has kept them so prominent in the community?

A: Hundreds of people every year, I actually have the numbers. There’s a need for all of them, the people who utilize our programs are in need of them. First-time homebuyers need down payment assistance, senior citizens are sometimes on fixed incomes and can’t repair their homes. We’re here to help whether it’s through one of our programs or referring to another program that could help.



Q: What would you say to encourage people in the community to look into the City’s programs?

A: Just come in and apply, see if you qualify and come talk to me or Erika Villa. We’re here to help, that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we intend to do.



Q: What would you say are the most used programs out of what the City offers?

A: The Senior Housing Program and the First-Time Homebuyer Program. The Self-Help Housing Program, we do as many of those as we can at a time but there’s been quite the demand. 



Q: What would you say you’ve enjoyed most about working in the community?

A: That’s what I do enjoy, I enjoy working with the people in the community. I’ve worked with a lot of developers with Rural Housing Incentive District projects, we wouldn’t have gotten anything done if we hadn’t. We’ve got multi-family housing going up on Zinnia Lane by the bowling alley, that’s a project that got done, Village at the Plaza, that’s another one that got done, those houses on Jewell Street that are going up with the Self-Help Housing, those are all projects we’ve done and we’ve worked with a vast number of people in the community from the people who need help to those who want to help with the projects and make them happen. We’re here to help the community.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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