Auburn Offers $1 Million For House Builders

A housing boom ... I would love to see a dozen new houses

- Mayor Kudrna

AUBURN – The city of Auburn is offering $1 million dollars to encourage rehabilitated and new homes.

The city council approved a budget Monday that restates the city’s offer of $10,000 cash for anyone who would build a new house and now includes a free lot.

Auburn will also provide up to $85,000 in interest-free loans to encourage people to build  on vacant lots and $540,000 for owner-occupied rehab.

No-interest construction loans up to $25,000 are also available.

Mayor Scott Kudrna said the city’s goal for the $1 million is clear.

Kudrna: “A building boom. A building and remodeling boom in Auburn. I’d love to get a dozen new houses in town. All the way from the in-fill housing to the brand new, 2,000-square-foot houses. “

Kudrna said the biggest challenge for the city’s housing programs over the past decade has been getting people to apply. He hopes the new programs will change that.

Kudrna: “I really want people to understand how much of an economic development tool new construction is.

“It’s amazing. Not only are you building the assessed valuation, but you have the jobs here, you’re buying the supplies here, you have the contractors here. All of that stuff drives economic development, tremendously.”

He credited the city’s active nuisance abatement program for keeping the curb appeal of the housing stock. About $50,000 for legal fees and demolition is in this year’s budget as well.

He said Auburn has a nationally-recognized school and employers who are looking to fill positions.

Kudrna: “We want to provide the housing for them.”

He said details of the new program will iron out issues that arose this winter, when applications came for both new living space and remodeling.

Kudrna: “We have various housing programs we are planning to implement next year. One is one we have had success with in the past. Specifically, last year, $10,000 for a new house.

“Any new house in Auburn, there is a $10,000 grant for that. The other component of that is we added in local funding for rehabilitation. That is $100,000. Again, a $10,000 maximum grant or 30 percent of the costs, whichever is less. So the city is only going to grant up to 30 percent or $10,000, whichever is less.

However, if I’m a contractor or someone that has bought a house and I really want to do a bunch of rehab on it, refurbishing on it, and it’s in a dilapidated situation, where maybe it’s on our nuisance abatement list that  we are going after for nuisance abatement in the neighborhood, then we can do up to 50 percent, interest-free loan for one year.

“For example, if I had a house and I was planning on doing $60,000 in work. I got the $10,000 grant, but I still had $50,000 left to pay for. I could apply for the interest-free loan up to $25,000. So, of this $60,000 project, I got to come up with $25,000 to finish it.”

Jim Warrelman of Southeast Nebraska Development District met with the council Monday regarding the rehabilitation program, which does not require a match.

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