A $250,000 grant to Northwest Housing, Inc. from the Foundation will be used to provide housing for low income families in Norton County. The grant will assist in the construction of four new homes, two each in the communities of Almena and Norton.
The properties will be owned by Northwest Housing, Inc. (NWKHI) and rented to families at or below 60% of the area median income.
The homes will be built by Wardcraft. They will be single-story homes with three bedrooms, one bathroom, and unfinished basement, a porch and garage. Appliances will be included.
The grant from the Hansen Foundation addresses two critical issues in northwest Kansas, economic development and quality of life.
Norton County has a severe shortage of income appropriate housing, according to the Norton Chamber of Commerce. Members of a diverse workforce that includes agriculture, manufacturing, health care and the state prison are having to commute from neighboring counties. Employers report that it is difficult to fill open positions because of a low unemployment rate (2.8%) and the lack of appropriate affordable housing.
Northwest Kansas Housing Inc. has a waiting list of more than 30 families for homes in Norton. The organization predicts all of the new homes will be filled with young families.
NWKHI provides tenants with education on budgeting, home ownership and how to comply with tenant/landlord regulations. The hope is that families can eventually purchase these or other homes in the community.