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Nebraska entities share $14 million in housing grants, with another $4 million left unclaimed


Nebraska entities share $14 million in housing grants, with another $4 million left unclaimed

Mar 27, 2023 | 9:23 pm ET
By Cindy Gonzalez
Nebraska entities share $14 million in housing grants, with another $4 million left unclaimed
(Getty Images)

LINCOLN — Nebraska economic development officials on Monday announced $14 million in housing-related grants headed to various communities across the state that have been set back by the pandemic.

The state fell short, however, of awarding another nearly $4 million set aside for housing — because not enough qualified applicants from rural areas requested the money, a spokesperson said.

Aurora workforce housing
A rural workforce housing project in Aurora, Nebraska. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

The spokesperson for the Department of Economic Development said the state will open a second application cycle to try to distribute the remainder.

The funds are from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and were earmarked last year under Legislative Bill 1014 to respond to negative effects of COVID-19 by increasing housing stability.

In this wave of grants, the department was dealing with two funding pots: $10 million for one program and $8 million for another.

All of the $10 million was snapped up by rural cities. That amount was to go to eligible municipalities that develop and renovate affordable housing to increase long-term stability.

12 cities awarded grants

(via the Rural Workforce Housing Land Development Program)

City of Alma: $1 million

City of Beatrice: $1 million.

City of Central City: $1 million.

City of McCook: $1 million.

City of North Platte: $1 million.

Village of Pender: $1 million.

City of Red Cloud: $1 million.

City of St. Paul: $1 million.

City of Hastings: $750,000.

Village of Palmer: $535,970.

Village of Bertrand: $491,260.

Village of Arnold: $222,770.


Of 27 applications totaling $19 million in requests, 12 winners are to receive the total $10 million via the state’s “Rural Workforce Housing Land Development Program.”

Of the other $8 million fund, only about $4 million was distributed among five nonprofits. A state official said that at least half of the total is supposed to go to rural Nebraska and that an insufficient show of eligible applications left the money unclaimed, so far.

State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, who has championed measures to devote more state funds toward affordable housing development, said the need across the state for additional housing “of all categories is indisputable.”

Numerous nonprofits and housing groups testified during various legislative hearings about the need for more housing, especially at affordable prices, to attract more workers and economic development to both urban and rural Nebraska. 

“I am surprised more of these dollars were not accessed,” Briese said. “Perhaps there was an element of lack of awareness of the program parameters.”

Funds for that program were aimed at nonprofits serving low-income households, including refugee and immigrants, in disproportionately affected census tracts.

5 groups to share about $4 million

Five nonprofits that received chunks of the $8 million pot were:

  • Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Lexington/Dawson County: $1 million.

Project: New construction of 16 units of three- and four-bedroom rowhouse-style rental housing units serving refugees and immigrants exclusively. 

  • Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, Omaha/Douglas County: $1 million.

Project: Production of five affordable housing units for sale using a mix of rehabilitated homes and new construction units serving refugees and immigrants exclusively.

  • Project Houseworks, Omaha/Douglas County: $550,000.

Project: Create quality, safe affordable housing through a home repair program serving refugee and immigrant homeowners exclusively.     

  • Neighborhoods, Lincoln/Lancaster County: $660,000.

Project: Down payment assistance program serving 12 refugee and immigrant households exclusively.      

  • Family Service Association of Lincoln, Lincoln/Lancaster County: $1 million.

Project: New construction of four two-bedroom and four three-bedroom duplexes to serve refugees and immigrants exclusively.