Just driving down the streets of Chadron (pop. 5,592) and Gordon (pop. 1,706) in northwest Nebraska, one could see a need for more low-income housing. But this need went far beyond appearances. It was based on several factors, including a larger than anticipated number of applicants applying for low-income housing, the slim number of available quality homes, and results of a “windshield” survey of housing, which noted the quality and condition of each house in both communities.
The end result was the building of 10 homes — six in Chadron and four in Gordon. In several cases in each community, existing homes were demolished to free up lot space. In both Gordon and Chadron, city work crews helped clear several lots and High Plains’ Chadron YouthBuild demolished a dilapidated home that had been an eyesore in the community for over 20 years. This project is an example of how many local, regional and state agencies came together to assist low- and middle-income wage earners with acquiring their first homes.
The lead agency in the project was High Plains Community Development Corporation and its subsidiary programs of Chadron YouthBuild, Housing Counseling Center and Fair Housing Center, all programs funded directly to High Plains from HUD. HOME funds awarded to High Plains through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development also were used in tandem with Chadron YouthBuild, an alternative high school education program and job training in construction trades program for high school dropouts, male and female, ages 16 – 24. Assistance provided through the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund helped qualified homebuyers with down payment and closing costs. Housing counseling funds from HUD, matched with REACH funds helped provide homebuyer education classes and credit and budget counseling sessions.
The new housing has positively impacted both communities in the form of cleaner, more attractive neighborhoods. Citizens’ reactions have been overwhelming and the demand for similar housing has significantly increased. New homeowners also are taking as much pride in their homes’ interiors as exteriors.
Thanks to the hard work and concerted efforts of High Plains Community Development Corporation working with the communities of Chadron and Gordon, homeownership has become a reality for 10 families.