Jeff council hears update on Region XII housing efforts

The city of Jefferson has reaped significant impact from Region XII Council of Government’s work on grant-funded housing projects.

Karla Janning, housing programs coordinator at Region XII, was at the Jefferson city council meeting Tuesday for a required public hearing on the status of projects using a $280,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The grants provide 5-year forgivable loans to income-qualifying homeowners for substantial repair projects.

The grant was initially for $245,000, but additional funds were available in a pilot project to rehab historic homes. The home at 501 W. State St is a pilot home. So far, the roof has been repaired, significant non-historical windows have been replaced, the stucco is being cleaned and will be stained, and wood trim is being restored. Three original porch windows were discovered hidden under plywood. If funds allow, those windows will be repaired and installed in their original places.

Work on the five houses in the project has included four roofs, one entire siding project, one handicap-accessible shower installed, replacement windows on three entire houses, and furnace and mechanical replacement on two houses.

Another $20,000 in work was done using Region XII’s weatherization program and with Region XII’s Housing Trust Fund.

The grant period doesn’t expire until next June 30. Janning plans to amend the initial target area to add one more home to the total project.

Council member Dave Sloan asked Janning for a recap of previous housing projects for the benefit of new council member Darren Jackson.

Janning named a previous project similar to this year’s project of owner-occupied rehab that totaled $186,000; and two projects funded through Region XII’s Federal Home Loan Bank grant fund at $25,000 each and two at $16,500 each. Region XII also operates and provides matching funds for a housing trust fund for interested counties. The Greene County Housing Trust Fund has made available $30,000 to $40,000 in grant work each year of the last seven years.

Region XII is also preparing to build two “affordable” single family homes on lots provided by the city. Those homes will be sold to qualifying homebuyers.

Region XII will soon have funds that will provide up to $25,000 in down payment assistance for a first time home buyers or veterans, Janning said.

Jefferson building officer Nick Sorensen added that Region XII was the grant administrator for the large downtown CDBG grant.

Other agenda items pertained to the development of multi-family housing in the 500 block of N. Olive St.

The council held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the Jefferson Urban Revitalization Plan. No comments were heard and the council next approved a resolution amending the plan. The amendment allows the city to provide a 100 percent 10-year property tax abatement for new multi-family residential construction and a 100 percent 3-year property tax abatement for all other classes of property.

The 10-year abatement was requested by Andy Rowland of Rowland Real Estate, developer of the multi-family “workforce” housing.

Finally, the council set July 23 at 5:30 pm as the date and time for a public hearing on rezoning the half-block building site from residential single family to residential multi-family.

During the reports portion of the meeting, council member Harry Ahrenholtz reported attending a Greene County Development Corporation board meeting earlier in the day. Nate Adams of Principal Real Estate Investors made an initial presentation at the meeting of 3-Block Project that includes repurposing the current middle school into apartments or condos. The next step, preliminary planning and engineering, is estimated at $120,000. No commitment has been made for funding.

Also, Ahrenholtz and Sorensen reported GCDC is paying Peter Franks of the Franks Design Group to do a preliminary study determining if the building at 100 E. State St is eligible for historic tax credits and develop an estimate of repair costs. The study will cost $3,500.

The building is privately owned with the first floor rented to Angie Peterson, proprietor of Angie’s Tea Garden. Ruptured pipes on the second floor last February damaged the building beyond use.

Sorensen said after the meeting the city and GCDC want to be pro-active regarding repair of the building rather than watching it fall into total disrepair.

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