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6/23/2013

Program funding welcome amid shortage of housing.

Program funding welcome amid shortage of housing.

A program designed to encourage new housing has helped spur progress.

Garden City was among communities in Kansas to benefit recently from a grant issued through the Kansas Moderate Income Housing Program.

Administered by the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. (KHRC), the program provides local governments with funding to use as incentives that encourage home construction. Grants may go toward such new infrastructure as streets, water, sewer and other utilities.

A $300,000 grant received locally aided in plans for Pioneer Road Estates, a housing complex of 17 single-family homes and 13 duplex units on 11 acres near Garden City High School.

Kansas communities with less than 60,000 population may apply for grants from the program, now in its second year.

The program's first year saw fierce competition, with 32 applications from throughout Kansas. Garden City was among eight communities selected to share in the available state funding.

Challenges of a severe budget crunch brought on by a massive income-tax-cut plan didn't keep the state from allocating $2 million for the program this year. Awards are capped at $400,000, and only cities and counties may apply.

While it's likely Garden City won't be in line for another grant right away, a project elsewhere in Finney County — and Holcomb in particular — would be welcome.

Local and area communities know all too well the challenge of trying to bring new businesses and workers to town with insufficient housing. Newcomers need choices in short-term or permanent family residences, and they're too few in number here.

Those who would criticize the use of state-funded incentives locally should know the dollars only would go elsewhere in Kansas. If such grants do indeed help make construction projects more feasible for developers who otherwise haven't been clamoring to build, they're a worthwhile investment.

Seeing the local Pioneer Road Estates project receive a financial boost as a way to encourage construction activity at a time too little has happened on that front was a welcome development — and, hopefully, just the first in a series of such ventures to come in a county in desperate need of new and affordable housing.

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