$1 million in federal relief to fund Clark County affordable housing

First-time buyers targeted in sites throughout the county.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

An affordable housing project geared toward first-time homebuyers in Clark County is getting a kickstart from $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The Clark County commission on Wednesday approved the allocation of federal relief to the program, which aims to build 12 homes over a period of three years on vacant properties owned by the Clark County Land Reutilization Corporation, also called the Land Bank.

The Land Bank currently has between 50 and 60 vacant lots in its possession that vary in size, and it’s evaluating which properties could be used for the future housing, Land Bank executive director Ethan Harris told commissioners.

The affordable housing project would include properties throughout Clark County.

“There’s not a shortage of property for us to build on,” Harris said. “Really it comes down to what’s the best and most impactful place that we can put these.”

Homes created through the project are expected to go up for sale for roughly $225,000.

“That’s going to build a really nice, energy-efficient, quality, attractive home that will build value for the family and offer all of the advantages of home ownership,” said Dirk Lackovich-Van Gorp, project coordinator for the Land Bank.

The first few homes could be contracted for construction next summer, Lackovich-Van Gorp said.

Families that can benefit from the affordable housing project would earn up to $79,500 annually. ARPA determines eligibility through federal poverty guidelines rather than area median income, according to Lackovich-Van Gorp.

The project will also include funding for some mortgage assistance on a case-by-case basis to potential homebuyers who may not have money for a full down payment but are credit qualified and can afford the mortgage.

The addition of houses to lots sitting vacant can add to the property values of surrounding homes, Harris said, sometimes by an increase of between 7-10%.

A total of $26 million was allocated to Clark County from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in March 2021. A total of $350 billion was allocated to help local governments across the country reeling from the pandemic.

Overall, the Clark County Commission has allocated roughly $21 million in ARPA funding to multiple construction projects and other programs and purchases.

Last month, the commission allocated $1 million to the construction of a new office building at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

Last year, ARPA dollars were allocated toward a $2 million project to replace storm sewers in the Enon-Xenia Road area in an effort to alleviate flooding. Another $1 million was allocated to also address flooding through a safety project for Spangler Road.

Up to $800,000 in federal relief through the standard allowance was also allocated to a waterline extension project from Ohio 235 to U.S. Route 40.

By the Numbers:

12: Number of houses to be created through project

3: Number of years in which the homes will be constructed

26: Amount in millions of ARPA funding allocated to Clark County’s government

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