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Homestead residents face uncertainty after USDA backs out of subsidies

News editor

They moved almost 17 months ago with assurances they could move back once their apartments were rehabilitated, but seven residents of Homestead Senior Residences in Marion recently got a double-dose of bad news: They can’t move back now, and they will have to pay more if they want to stay where they are.

Seven residents remain from about a dozen relocated in Dec. 2014 from rent-subsidized apartments in the September II complex to units in the rehabilitated atrium building, supposedly paving the way for Homestead Affordable Housing to renovate those apartments.

However, through letters and a meeting Friday with HAH director of property management Terri Bradshaw, affected residents learned that subsidized rent is going away, and that September II apartments won’t be fixed any time soon.

HAH paid about $7,000 to move the residents, and although atrium building apartments aren’t eligible for USDA subsidies, the agency didn’t raise rents and has been absorbing the cost difference since Jan. 2015, Bradshaw said.

Starting Aug. 1, affected residents will have to pay the $330 going rate for atrium building apartments.

“Those are the rents other people are paying,” Bradshaw said. “For some of them, it may not be that much difference in their rent.”

Those who can’t afford the increase might qualify for reduced rent through another program, Bradshaw said, or they could choose to move elsewhere.

“They were in September II for a reason, because they needed that subsidy,” she said. “That’s why we gave them 90-days notice, not 60, not 30. We wanted to give people time, ample time, to figure out whether they qualify or what they want to do.”

Last year, HAH executive director Tom Bishop said the apartments needed about $450,000 of repairs, and in April 2015 he was hopeful HAH could work through USDA Rural Development to get the funds.

However, according to a letter Bishop sent to residents April 28, USDA denied the grant request, rejected an appeal, and removed the property from the rural development program.

Bishop said in 2015 that HAH also had applied to Kansas Housing Resources Corporation for the full amount, but the lack of any remodeling is evidence that bid failed as well.

“If they had applied in spring 2015, they would have already received notice if they received the award,” KHRC deputy director Ryan Vincent said.

HAH has received other grants from KHRC, but there are many competing interests for their support, he said.

Bradshaw said HAH is working with USDA to assume ownership of the September II units, and if the deal goes through, HAH will continue to explore options for rehabilitating the units.

Last modified May 12, 2016

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