By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
There are piles of dirt in the yard, but there are shades in the windows. Cassie Carman and son Zariah are moving into their new rental home in the Cornerstone Development Park.
They are the first to move into Heather Estates, located on the north side of 2nd Street in the Cornerstone Commercial Park.
Carman, who has been living with parents Alan and Joni Carman, said “I’m ready to be out on my own.”
Her four-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage home rents for $515 per month.
City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said most of the rentals are three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage units. They rent for $462 per month.
Persons wishing to rent must earn 65 percent or less of the area median income. Leyland said that in 2013 that meant that a four-person family would earn less than $34,200 per year.
She said the application process may seem daunting to people, noting that Imperial Community Development Director Jason Tuller can help with the process.
Carman moved some of her furniture into her house last weekend. She hopes to be settled this weekend.
She loves everything about the house. “It’s my own place. I can decorate it how I want, and have my own space.”
Zariah, 4, was eager to show off his bedroom Monday. He also wanted to rearrange the furniture in the living room.
The dining area and kitchen are located off the spacious living room. The bedrooms and baths branch off the living room on the other side.
There’s a porch on the north side of the house.
Appliances are included in the rent.
Leyland said Jeff Rusher has been contracted for the sprinkler system and lawns for the project.
There are 10 rental houses in the area, as well as four homes for sale. Leyland said that as of Monday, three or four of the income-controlled rentals are still not rented, and three of the four other houses have been purchased.
Heather Estates is being developed and built by Dana Point Development, headquartered in Turlock, Calif.
President Matt Thomas expressed interest in Imperial in 2011 when he learned that rental properties were scarce. His company was awarded $1.5 million in federal housing tax credits to build the houses.
The City of Imperial loaned Dana Point $310,000 from the LB 840 sales tax economic development fund for the project. Leyland said that is a 10-year loan for two market-rate rentals, which will be rented at market rate and not by area median income.
By doing that, Dana Point was granted points that helped procure the tax-credit grant, Leyland said.
The tax credits are sold by Mid-Nebraska Equity Housing Group to a non-profit entity, according to Leyland. The proceeds from the sale of those credits help reduce the amount borrowed by the contractor.
The credits are usually used as a direct offset to income taxes.
Leyland said Thomas may consider applying for another grant to build five more rentals. This time the renter must make less than 80 percent of the area medium income.
“I think he’s been pretty happy with the response here,” she noted.
When will Carman have neighbors in the rental houses? Leyland said she anticipates that one or two houses will be occupied each month as they are completed.
Construction of Heather Estates began last fall, and was supposed to have been completed this spring.
Leyland said it will now be fall or later before all houses are finished.