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HUD housing continues mission after 36 years in Valley Falls

by Clarke Davis

 

Valley Falls accountant Paul Heinen handed the city officials a check for $5,500 Oct. 5, an annual payment in lieu of taxes for the 24-apartment complex known as Sunset Haven.

Heinen has been the executive director of the public housing complex since 1972, before the federal Housing and Urban Development project was built in 1975.

The HUD project in Valley Falls

The HUD project in Valley Falls has provided housing in the city for 36 years. Paul Heinen has always been the executive director. Photo by Clarke Davis

A committee, consisting of A.J. Klausman, Frank Williams, Joan Baker, Joe Weishaar, and Larry Buening, was appointed by the city council in May 1967 for the purpose of acquiring public housing. HUD purchased the land for the building from Dan Sheldon and it was annexed into the city in July 1970.

“It was believed that the complex could provide affordable housing for people while at the same time freeing up housing for families in the community,” Heinen said. “The project has provided a good home for a lot of people over the years.”

Rent is based on a sliding scale depending on one’s income. This past year, the average rent was $263 a month. The only other expense a renter had was a small amount for cable television and a fee to use the washer and dryer.

Utilities cost the complex an average of $73 a month per apartment for electricity, gas, water, and sewer.

The payment to the city is based on 10 percent of the rental income less the utilities.

Heinen reports that the federal government has provided a $20,000 grant the last five years to help with building upkeep. The money has gone for new windows, siding, furnaces, and air conditioning units.

The kitchen cabinets and applicances have all been replaced and the carpet is routinely replaced when someone who has resided there longer than five years leaves. The past year, capital improvements have included replacing all interior doors, community room tables, and some drapes.

The washer and dryer have also been replaced, the first dryer having lasted 35 years, Heinen said.

The complex is currently full and has two on the waiting list. Heinen said there has only been a couple of times in the past 36 years that there were empty apartments for any length of time. He said there were four empty apartments for about six months recently, but no longer.

The present Housing Authority board consists of Gerry Metzger, chairwoman, Denise Streeter, vice chair, Lisa Cook, Polly Schneider and one vacancy.

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