How Fremont is Solving its Workforce Housing Shortage
27 Aug 2018
With businesses expanding, there is an increased need for workforce housing in Dodge County. According to a recent housing study, that number could be as high as 1,500 units. To say that the community of Fremont and Dodge County is determined to address this issue would be an understatement. With the Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC) at the helm, partners including FCC, Lincoln Premium Poultry, First National Bank, FBC, City of Scribner, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority have come together to address workforce housing in a big way. These local match participants agreed to place $1.03 million in the Dodge County Investment Fund, enabling GFDC to receive a Rural Workforce Housing Grant in the amount of $850,000. With the money in place, the Dodge County Investment Fund can now be used to promote the development of workforce housing.
As GFDC Executive Director Garry Clark told the Fremont Tribune, “The goal of that application process was to develop a fund that could help create a catalyst for investment in workforce housing in rural communities, partly due to the fact that it’s a difficult development section of housing in rural places. It’s just harder to financially calculate and make it work for most developers because of the price range and the cost burden, so this is supposed to be an incentive for that development to take place.”
How the funds can be used by developers
GFDC is hoping to attract developers interested in building both owner-occupied and rental housing units. Per the Dodge County housing study, a minimum of 367 rental units and 491 owner-occupied units will be needed by 2022 alone, 676 of those will be in Fremont. However, with growth and an expected economic boost, this number is projected to be 1,194 units needed. The need is high, but so is the opportunity for real estate developers.
The purpose of the fund is to provide gap financing to developers of workforce housing. Eligible projects include:
- Rental housing - construction costing no more than $200,000 per unit.
- Owner-Occupied – construction costing no more than $275,000 per unit
- Rehabilitated Housing – Cost to rehab must exceed 50% of assessed value
- Upper story housing
Developers can use the funds to assist with:
- Land acquisition
- Pre Development expenses
- Construction or renovation of residential real estate
- Infrastructure cost
- Permanent loan/loan guarantee
- Rent or sales guarantees
- Gap financing
Eligible developers will be those who have a track record of success, yet need financial assistance to make the project work. Developers must also be willing to personally guarantee the loan. The first round of applications from developers has a deadline of August 31. If you are an interested developer please contact the GFDC office to let us know you will be applying.
Developers can now access the application at www.fremontecodev.org under the housing tab in order to apply.
Homebuyers will also benefit
In addition to benefiting from increased access to workforce housing, homebuyers can benefit financially from the creation of the Dodge County Investment Fund. In mid to late 2019, as workforce housing becomes available for occupancy, jobseekers looking to relocate to Fremont can apply for down payment assistance, consistent with the Workforce Housing Investment Act.
Workforce housing is a key component for growing Dodge County.
GFDC and local partners understand how critical the development of workforce housing is for the continued growth of Dodge County. Recent business attraction campaigns have resulted in new businesses locating here and others expanding. This is excellent news for the economy, but without enough housing it becomes difficult for businesses to recruit more employees. It also means that their employees will live outside of the area and spend their wages in other communities, instead of Fremont and Dodge County. Building workforce housing is the best way to address this and by addressing this now, Fremont is moving forward into a future of progress and prosperity.
GFDC is currently taking applications for a Housing Development Manager to spearhead and coordinate these efforts.