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Mayor Starts Development Company to Address Housing - KOAM TV 7

Mayor Starts Development Company to Address Housing

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BRONSON, KS -

"The drain under our shower just drains right underneath the house. Then the ceiling panels are falling down in the kitchen," Bronson, Kansas resident Stephanie Leistra said, detailing problems with her house. "The main thing we were hoping to fix was just the roof and update to the house that needed to be done."

She's one of the Bronson residents who applied for a housing rehabilitation grant through the city, to make repairs to their house. 

"That grant would be something that would benefit a lot of people," Leistra said. 

The Kansas Department of Commerce denied the city's grant application because the assessed valuation for homes in Bronson is too low. 

"We've got some pretty old homes that are getting dilapidated, and we're in a pretty low income area, so people can't afford to fix their homes up," Bronson City Clerk Ellen Harper said. 

Besides limiting quality housing options, that's contributing to dropping property values for surrounding homes. And the vast majority of the city's revenue comes from property valuation. 

With no prospect of a housing development in the near future, Bronson Mayor Alan Stewart and his wife Charlotte, who is also a member of the Bronson city council, began development on new homes, themselves. As of now, Stewart Bronson Properties LLC. has sold one home, with another under construction. 

"The housing is terrible in Bronson," Alan said. "I think there's just a terrible housing shortage in these small towns."

"We didn't make money off the first home we did," Charlotte said. "And I told my husband, 'Well that's God's way of keeping us honest. Cause that's not what we're doing it for.'"

It's since opened up an opportunity for moderate income housing grants to help home buyers make a down payment. The Stewarts say once their newest house is built, they hope to sell it for about $90,000. The moderate income housing grant will pay for up to 20-percent of that for a perspective buyer.

"Middle income, working people. You know, with small families," Alan said. "That's what we're wanting."

A typical home in Bronson runs anywhere from $25-30,000. Mayor Stewart hopes the new developments will increase those numbers.

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