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Affordable modern housing becoming an issue in Oskaloosa

by Dennis Sharkey

Affordable housing can be a challenge in rural neighborhoods and local leaders in Oskaloosa are trying to stay ahead of the curve.

David Loving with the Oskaloosa Rural Housing Board met with the city council earlier this month to discuss plans for the future of housing in Oskaloosa. Currently the board operates three complexes in Oskaloosa.

Loving said the board is developing a plan to add 10 to 12 apartments to the community but it would be addition by subtraction. Loving said financiers have told them that part of the plan should be to sell the Madison Apartments after new apartments are built.

Loving stressed a problem of not having enough modern housing rather than a need for additional units.

“They’re people that come to town and look at our apartments and some of them back away because they’re old and just don’t look that good,” Loving said.

Loving said the board has started researching possible locations for a new complex. He said his board is interested in the property at the corner of Delaware and Washington Streets where the city shop is located, if the city ever decided to sell.

Councilman Allen Wise said that the council has discussed moving the city shop to property the city acquired last year on the edge of town. Wise said he liked the idea although this is a potential plan that would require a lot of time.

“It’s a long-term process,” Wise said. “It would add to the looks of the city and it is close to the square.”

Wise said the city also has a lot of other projects on its plate that would take higher priority such as the City Hall remodeling.

Councilwoman Kelly Hattemer, who was serving as mayor during the meeting, said the city would be interested in selling the property to the board if the shop ever moved because something would have to be done with the lot.

Loving said the board would also need some financial assistance with the process for it to move forward. Before the board can acquire a loan for the project a market study has to be conducted to determine the viability of the complex in relation to the community. Loving said the study would cost about $5,000 and that the board has no capital for the study. However, if approved, the cost of the study could be rolled into the loan.

“I don’t know if you want to take a chance like that,” Loving said. “I think it would be a good improvement to that corner.”

The council made no comment or commitment to the study.

Councilman Jim Faris said he would like to see a focus on affordable housing for young families. This plan for new housing would be for one-bedroom apartments which would not be suitable for a young family.

“There are also several families,” Faris said. “I was one of them at one point, and I had to wait a little bit to get an apartment here in town myself.”

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Posted by on Oct 2 2010. Filed under Government, Oskaloosa, The Independent. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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