The city of Hastings is receiving $850,000 to help spur workforce housing in the community.

City officials learned Monday Hastings is among Nebraska communities to receive LB518 Rural Workforce Housing Development Funds.

Hastings is providing an equal match of funds.

LB518, passed by the Legislature in 2017, established the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act with a $7 million fund.

Members of the Hastings City Council approved in March a resolution authorizing the use of up to $1 million from Hastings Utilities’ economic development funds as a match. Hastings Utilities established an economic development incentive fund of $5.5 million in 2011. It currently has a balance of $2.488 million.

The Hastings Economic Development Corp. will serve as the nonprofit development organization overseeing the local Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act funds.

North Park Commons has been identified as the project to benefit from the funds.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the city,” Mayor Corey Stutte said Monday afternoon. “There was a great team that helped put this together with HEDC, the city, Hastings Utilities, as well as some developers that helped us put the application together. We weren’t sure where we’d rank out. We felt fairly confident our proposed projects, which had to be shovel ready and ready to go within two years, would be the appropriate one.”

The funds will be used for infrastructure in North Park Commons tied directly to workforce housing and help buy down costs for housing developers to allow for more affordable housing.

The money is a loan. As it is paid back it will stay in Hastings in a revolving fund to be used for other workforce development housing projects.

“We’re happy to see those funds come back to the city of Hastings,” Stutte said.

Local officials worked to come up with requirements for the reuse funds.

Don Threewitt, city development services director, said the key to the program is that it is set aside for “workforce housing” which has been defined as rental housing which costs at or below $200,000 per unit, or owner-occupied housing that costs at or below $275,000 per unit.

He anticipates it will be two to three years before enough of these funds are captured to be reused.

“What we’re looking at is just ensuring these funds stay with workforce housing and stay tied to workforce housing from now into the future,” Threewitt said.

Stutte said more than 20 communities applied for funding, most of those applications were for more than $500,000.

“We feel pretty good that we’re coming in with about 12 percent of the total LB518 dollars,” he said.

Hastings was one of four communities that received 85 percent of a $1 million request while the other award recipients were given 64 percent of their ask until the $7 million in funds were depleted.

Stutte said he wasn’t confident the city would get the full $1 million it applied for, but $850,000 is an impressive amount.

“When you consider the number of communities that applied for this grant funding we weren’t sure how it would be set up,” he said. “There was only $7 million of LB518 dollars available. For us to come out with $850,000 I feel very good about.”

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