8 projects and programs apply for funding from the city’s affordable housing sales tax

photo by: City of Lawrence

This sketch of a three-bedroom ranch home is part of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity's application for 2020 funding from the city's affordable housing sales tax.

Eight affordable housing projects are requesting funding from the City of Lawrence, including a housing repair program, a voucher program for homeless people and a project that would build a complex of townhomes with 50 new affordable units.

A special city sales tax has helped generate $1.275 million this year, and the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board is preparing to award $450,000 from the fund, which will be its last distribution for 2020, according to Danielle Buschkoetter, budget and strategic initiatives administrator. The eight projects and programs recently submitted their funding applications to the board, which is now in the process of evaluating the applications.

The board will vote on the funding recommendation it will provide to the Lawrence City Commission as part of its meeting Jan. 11. Factors the board considers include the income level of residents who would be served, how many units would be created, how many years of affordability the project would provide and the amount of city funding the project is requesting per bedroom created, among other factors. The commission must give final approval to the recommendation, but it has generally agreed with the board’s recommendations.

Lawrence voters approved the special sales tax in 2017. City staff has estimated the tax will provide about $1 million annually to the city’s affordable housing fund for 10 years, after which the sales tax will automatically end unless voters decide to renew it. The city has previously allocated property tax revenue to the affordable housing fund, but it began receiving proceeds from the sales tax last year. This round of projects will be the second group funded using proceeds from the sales tax.

Summaries of the eight affordable housing projects are as follows. Each project’s full funding application is available on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org. Area median income is calculated annually for various household sizes; for 2020, the median income figure used for affordable housing eligibility was about $62,000 for an individual and about $79,500 for a family of three.

Lawrence Habitat for Humanity is requesting $50,000 for a home repair and workforce housing project. The project would repair five homes in need of critical repairs and construct one new home at the intersection of Eighth and Walnut streets, which would be permanently designated as affordable housing. The project would serve households making 80% or less of area median income.

Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center is requesting $493,097 for its transitional housing project located at 950 W. Second St. The requested funding would not provide any new affordable housing units, but would instead cover a construction funding shortfall. The project, Transitions, is a group housing facility that will serve people recovering from behavioral health issues who make 30% or less of area median income.

Tenants to Homeowners and Vecino Group are requesting $450,000 for their Liberated Lawrence project. The project would construct 50 new affordable units in a complex of townhomes, duplexes or triplexes, and 12 of those would be units for families who would receive social support services through an office on-site. The project would be built on a 10.4-acre site south of Bob Billings Parkway, north of Lake Estates Road and east of the South Lawrence Trafficway trail. The project would be permanently designated as affordable housing and would serve households making 60% or less of area median income. Developer fees would be 6.46% of the total project budget.

Tenants to Homeowners and Affordable Rental Management are requesting $100,000 for a housing repair program. The program would repair 20 rental units. It would serve residents making 80% or less of area median income. Administrative costs would account for $10,000 of the project’s total cost.

Independence Inc. is requesting $50,000 for an accessible housing program. The program would modify at least six rental and homeowner-occupied units to allow people with disabilities to live there independently. It would serve households making 80% or less of area median income. Administrative costs would account for $5,000 of the project’s total cost.

The United Way of Douglas County, Tenants to Homeowners, and Family Promise of Lawrence are seeking $291,400 for the Housing Stabilization Collaborative program. The funding would help provide rental assistance for 140 units for three to six months and support services for one year. The services would benefit households making 30% to 50% of area median income. Administrative costs would account for $59,000 of the project’s total cost.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority is requesting $50,000 for its New Horizon program. The program would provide rental vouchers for 10 units for a period of two years and would serve households making 30% to 50% of area median income.

The Lawrence Community Shelter is seeking $50,000 to support the existing winter shelter and provide housing assistance. The program would provide vouchers for 10 rental units for a period of two years, and it would serve households making less than 30% of area median income.


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