What’s happening with Eco Devo housing?

The new rental houses completed earlier this year in St. John and the currently under construction in Macksville are part of the nine house county-wide rental housing Stafford County Economic Development (EcoDevo) started building in September 2021. The first house was built in Hudson and completed in February 2022. Three houses in Stafford were completed in June 2022. The three houses in St. John were completed in January 2023. And the final two houses in Macksville should be completed by August 2023. 

The houses were based on a prototype designed and built by the Net+ Studio at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design in St. John. It is a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom house with a slab foundation that totals around 1,100 sq. ft. The floor plan maximizes the use of square footage incorporates vaulted ceilings and an open concept kitchen, living, and dining area. They were designed to be affordable and energy efficient. 

The funding for these houses primarily came from two affordable housing programs: HOME (grant) and Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program (grant and loan package). Both are federal programs administered by state entities that come with 15-20 years of restrictions and compliance reporting. The main restriction is income which is based on the area median income (AMI) and household size. Half of the houses have to be rented at 80% AMI or less (though initial rent up has to be 60% or less) and half at 50% AMI or less. Income is verified at the time of application and then annually.  

The good news is that the income limits are adjusted annually, and new higher limits will went into effect June 1, 2023. 

The rent for these houses is $500 or $550 a month depending on location and tenant’s income. A security deposit equal to one month’s rent is required at move-in. The kitchen appliances are furnished and there are hookups for a washer and dryer. The tenants are responsible for all utilities. Pets are considered (up to 2); they must be pre-approval and there is an additional $250 pet deposit. 

Earlier this year, Housing Opportunities Inc. (HOI) took over property management and compliance of all EcoDevo rental properties. If you want more information on the available properties, are interested in applying, or want to be added to the waiting list for properties currently occupied contact HOI at 620-792-3299. 

Proposed New Development 

This is different than the new housing development program that EcoDevo has been working with the county and cities on since last year. This new phase of development would not have the same income restrictions. 

EcoDevo was not awarded funding during the Fall 2022 application cycle for Moderate Income Housing grants. On June 2nd, EcoDevo submitted a new, revised application for a Moderate Income Housing grant and an allocation Kansas Housing Investor Tax Credits. If awarded construction would begin in early 2024. 

The plan is to build houses of varying price points to better meet the needs in our area. The floor plan, foundation (slab or basement), and whether the house has a garage all affect the price. The current estimated construction costs range from $175,000 to $300,000. The goal is to sell several of the house and rent the rest. There is demand for both rental and owner-occupied housing. The selling of houses will allow for the building of additional houses and continual housing development.