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BREAKING NEWS

Housing Committee reviews CHAT report

By Staff | Aug 26, 2009

There are a lot of different goals in addressing Estherville’s housing needs – all involving money.

Tuesday night the Excel! Estherville Housing Committee met to determine how the committee could meet those needs given available resources.

Committee Chair Gene Haukoos recalled that in the mid-1990s the City of Estherville began tearing down dilapidated housing and built four to five infill units at about the same time. From 2000-2008, Estherville has averaged eight new housing units annually. That includes a range of housing including mobile home, multi-family, duplex and single family. The committee Tuesday grappled with what can be done to revamp existing housing and encourage new construction.

Steve Woodley, former city administrator, noted a need for gap financing to help people make home improvements. He suggested a combination of proceeds from the local option sales tax with contributions from financial institutions might be a good way to go.

George Shadle said local option money could be leveraged three-to-one with other sources. As a example, Shadle said if the housing committee could get a $50,000 allocation a year for three years to leverage other money, a significant funding pool could be established.

Cheryl Houseman said people’s ability to come up with closing costs was another problem. Another was just the sheer appearance of properties in the community.

“I see as a need just improving the physical appearance of the outside of a lot of them,” Houseman said.

The committee also saw a need for assistance for housing needs at a number of income levels, ranging from lower to middle income. Options discussed for resolving those needs ranged from assistance with homeowner insurance, low-interest loans and enlisting the support of church groups or other nonprofits to volunteer to fix up homes.