County commissioners met with Mid-Kansas Community Action Program representatives Monday to examine why the agency chose Hillsboro for an affordable housing project.
Mid-CAP, which serves 19 counties surrounding Sedgwick County, including Marion, is managing a Hillsboro project to supply low-income affordable apartments.
Chairman Randy Dallke said he wanted to see why projects were not being done in other county towns.
“Hillsboro is a very well qualified town to have it,” Dallke said, “but I’ve got some other towns that I’m concerned about too in this county.”
Mid-CAP executive director Joyce Stockham discussed with commissioners how their program worked and why Hillsboro was a good fit.
Stockham said they started the Hillsboro project through a general contractor they worked with prior to Hillsboro.
“Hillsboro had already done a housing analysis so we had some data to work with: the prosperity that’s happening there, the lack of rental units, the amount of work that the city had been doing,” Stockham said.
She added that the size of both the county and Hillsboro was another reason they chose the area.
“The other thing that helped this project is that we had a large number in a small area,” Stockham said.
Another reason Hillsboro was chosen, according to Stockham, was that the city donated land and infrastructure.
Dallke addressed some issues he had with Stockham, including the lack of taxes.
“We have to take that into consideration too that you want landowners to have nice houses and things,” Dallke said, “yet if we’re putting properties in that people can get based on their incomes, they won’t pay the higher rent.”
Stockham said low-income housing helps to keep people in the community.
“Often times if there’s a job in a small town, if there’s a job there, it’s not paying more than minimum wage,” Stockham said. “So in order to keep that person in that town, something has to give, because they’re not going to make a $600, $800 rent payment. That’s an eviction waiting to happen.”
Stockham said they do a housing survey to ensure the addition units they build won’t harm the existing rental market.
“You don’t want your landlords that are there to lose all their tenants because we build a 16-unit complex,” Stockham said. “Then you’ve got a landlord that’s not happy, and that’s probably a very important person in that community who now no longer has that income, and then we have a different problem.”
Stockham assured Dallke the project wouldn’t have been approved if it meant hurting other businesses and landlords in the area.
“So when we set up something like this, we would not set up anything without the support of the community, without the support of the city, county kind of a thing,” Stockham said, “because it does make a difference. You can really change the dynamics.”
In other business:
- Commissioners approved a transport fuel bid from Cooperative Grain and Supply for $12,136.
- Outgoing planning and zoning director Tonya Richards was retained to provide a maximum of 40 hours of support to the department per month, at $40 per hour, until her replacement is hired.