Gov. Ricketts, DED Open Application Period for Second Round of Rural Workforce Housing Grants

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Gov. Ricketts, DED Open Application Period for Second Round of Rural Workforce Housing Grants

Photo: Governor Pete Ricketts and project partners cut the ribbon on the Creekside Apartments in York, which were financed in part by the Rural Workforce Housing Fund.

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced that applications are being accepted for a second round of grants under Nebraska’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund (RWHF). 

“The Rural Workforce Housing Fund has helped make sure young people and families can find high-quality, reasonably priced places to live,” said Gov. Ricketts. “The funds are used to build quality, affordable residences. Upon sale of the properties, money returns to the fund so that it can be loaned again. This creates an ongoing source of funding to help our rural communities grow.”

A product of the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act (LB 518), which was signed into law in 2017, the RWHF is designed to help communities increase their supply of quality, affordable housing to accommodate a growing workforce. Funding recipients utilize the grants, combined with matching funds, to generate Rural Workforce Housing Investment Funds that support construction, reuse or rehabilitation projects.  

Since the RWHF’s inception and initial $7 million award distribution, the Fund has helped finance more than 620 housing units in 18 communities, with over $79.5 million invested so far by local governments in collaboration with nonprofits, employers and private investors. Following the initial success of the program, the State Legislature allocated a subsequent $10 million for award in 2021. DED Administers RWHF funding on behalf of the State of Nebraska through a competitive application process.

The grants — which require a 1:1 public or private match — are available to nonprofits in collaboration with units of local government. The funds must be invested in counties that have a population of less than 100,000. 

Eligible activities under the RWHF include the new construction of owner-occupied or rental housing; the substantial repair or rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock; upper-story housing development; and rehabilitation that includes the conversion of an existing building into housing.   

“We encourage eligible applicants across Nebraska to forge partnerships and take advantage of this unique funding opportunity,” said DED Director Anthony L Goins. “We’ve seen incredible results since the RWHF’s first award distribution, especially when projects are backed by a coalition of public-private stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success and growth of their communities or regions, and who recognize the extreme importance of workforce housing.” 

Applications to the RWHF are due January 28, 2021. New to this cycle, applicants must first submit a letter of intent to apply; the letter of intent is due no later than December 15, 2020. 

For detailed information on eligibility, application guidelines and how to apply, visit DED’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund webpage at https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/workforce-housing-fund/. For questions, contact Sheryl Hiatt, Director of Housing and Field Operations, at sheryl.hiatt@nebraska.gov or 402-340-6180.