$1.13 million secured for more housing in county


Seward County has received $756,000 in Rural Workforce Housing funds from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Along with the required 50% match from local contributors, a total of $1.134 million will go toward affordable housing projects in Seward County.

NDED announced the recipients May 11, with 27 entities being awarded a total of $22,825,000.

The Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership applied for the funds in March after receiving an initial round of Rural Workforce Housing Fund dollars in 2020.

The $1.26 million from that first round assisted with four different housing projects which created a total investment of $15.7 million in 91 housing units.

Authorized by the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Act of 2017, the Rural Workforce Housing Fund is designed to help communities create quality, affordable housing to accommodate growth.

This round of funding was allocated by the state legislature in 2022.

“Growing rural Nebraska is a priority for our agency,” NDED Interim Director Joe Fox said. “The RWHF supports job creation and helps attract residents to our rural communities through strategic investments in affordable, high-quality housing. We had an outstanding batch of applicants for this cycle of RWHF awards.”

SCCDP President and CEO Jonathan Jank said the organization secured contributions for match dollars from a mix of public and private donors.

They included the SCCDP, Milford Community Betterment Fund, Seward LB 840 Program, Milford LB 840 Program, Utica LB 840 Program, Cattle Bank and Trust, Jones Bank, Union Bank and Trust, Petsource by Scoular, the Legacy Fund for Seward County, Lincoln Premium Poultry, R.W. Beckler and Associates, Seward McDonald's, City Bank and Trust, and First Bank of Utica.

Additional donors toward the first round of funding in 2020 included GBE CPA, the Wake Charitable Foundation, the Utica Foundation, the Francescato family, Ryan Burger and the Wisehart Family.

Jank said the SCCDP is not yet sure what housing projects will receive funds, but it has received letters of interest from developers for several projects.

“We’re checking back in with those developers,” he said, adding that a letter of interest doesn’t commit the developer to completing the project. “This sort of a fund creates innovative opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise pursued.”

Jank said the state requires projects to be done within two years of the funds being awarded, though the NDED has worked with developers to adjust that timeline in the past based on the availability of construction materials and contractors.