Changes are coming to the GO! HOME program in 2020 to refocus on bringing new residents to Phelps County.
The Phelps County Development Corporation will no longer offer renter relocation grants. Instead, PCDC will divert more resources to encouraging newcomers to buy homes with employer-matched down-payment assistance grants.
“We are really pleased with the performance of the GO! HOME down-payment assistance program,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “We’ve had some good results with renter relocation, but we think it’s more important to prioritize home-buying or owner-occupied grants. We get more bang for the buck with that.”
In 2019, PCDC received 19 applications for down-payment assistance grants. PCDC matches employer funds of up to $2,500 to help employees living outside of the county purchase a home in Phelps County. This resulted in 40 new residents and a total investment of $1.7 million in local homes purchased.
During the three years the down-payment assistance grants have been offered, it has attracted 93 new residents to the county.
The renter relocation grants were intended for workers and families who weren’t ready to purchase homes and awarded $1,000 grants to employees moving to the county to rent homes or apartments. Grants were used for moving expenses, rent, deposits or other uses outlined by the employer. Employees had to sign a year-long rental lease. During the two years the renter grants were offered, it assisted 60 new renters. The application deadline for the renter relocation grant is December 27, 2019.
The GO! HOME programs are part of an overall effort to increase the availability of workforce housing in the county and to help local employers recruit workers.
In 2020, the GO! HOME program will continue to offer the following grants:
- Down-payment assistance grants to employers with a maximum of $2,500 per employee. Employers may grant more than the $2,500 match required. The grants can be used to purchase homes, townhomes or condos. Employer matches are not required for public employees, such as teachers and government workers whose employers cannot match the grant. All down-payment assistance grants must be initiated through the employer, not PCDC.
- Residential Exterior Improvement grant for new or current Phelps County residents. The matching grant may be available upon purchasing a new primary residence.
- Neighborhood renewal grants designed to re-invigorate existing but tired neighborhoods. Grants are awarded to contractors for property improvements or demolition of dilapidated structures to make room for new construction.
“This is all part of our efforts to turn commuters into full-time Phelps County residents,” Tillery said. “We want to give those commuters every opportunity to find a home in Phelps County.”
A 2016 study indicated that of the 4,590 jobs in Phelps County, nearly half (or 2,177 jobs) are filled by workers who live outside of the county. A later housing study showed that 62 percent of commuters would consider moving to Phelps County.