City of Beatrice applies for housing rehab, downtown redevelopment assistance

BEATRICE – The City of Beatrice will apply for a Community Development Block grant aimed at rehabilitating homes in the city.
The grant application, seeking $547,000, is being made through the city’s membership in the Southeast Nebraska Development District. Executive Director of SENDD, Tom Bliss, says the program benefits low to moderate income persons…based on 80-percent of median household income….or about $57,000 for a family of four in Gage County.

"The maximum amount anyone can get is $24,999 for housing rehab. You can tack a little bit extra onto that for lead abatement."

There is no local matching funds requirement in the program and the grant application deadline is September 15th. There are pre-applications for the assistance through the city’s website….a step that can make the grant application more competitive with others. City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer says some applications for the program have been received.

"Between 40 and 50 at this point...pre-applications are available on our website. Anyone can pick them up, they're simply one sheet of paper. It's not anything that's binding, so that if you do fill it out and submit it...and you change your mind at a later problems."

Applications are reviewed for eligibility and then a housing committee selects the projects to be funded. A walk-through is done with the homeowner on the work to be done and costs.  Bliss says the goal is to maintain housing inventory.

"Housing inventory is very important, especially for workforce...and this is just one of those mechanisms in which you can maintain that."

The types of eligible work include plumbing, mechanical and electrical work….along with structural and winterization improvements.
The council unanimously approved making the application.

Local officials hope to continue pushing forward with downtown revitalization through another Community Development Block grant application to end slum or blight conditions.  The City Council approved an application Monday night for $445,000 in a program that combines public and private investment, similar to that done in the past few years.

The application is made through the Southeast Nebraska Development District. Main Street Beatrice Executive Director Michael Sothan says the original downtown development grant translated into a lot of investment in the downtown area.

"While it gave out about $350,000 worth of grants, the actual investment spent was close to five-million dollars that year on downtown improvements. So, we definitely see way more than a 25% match, which is exciting to see." Sothan said he's excited to see included funding for second floor use in the downtown of the priorities to make buildings more competitive....and serve a role in addressing some of the housing needs in Beatrice.

The program requires at least a $100,000 total match from private businesses, and there have been about twenty pre-applications for the assistance in the grant program. In the past, the city has required a private match on each project of at least 25-percent.

The previous program included mainly store front improvements between 2016 and 2018. The City Council voted 8-0 to make the new application for downtown assistance.