WASHINGTON, June 1, 2021 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Homeownership Month, as part of a nationwide celebration to highlight U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) efforts to provide access to affordable housing for rural Americans.
“Safe, energy-efficient, affordable housing is essential to the vitality of communities in rural America,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The American Rescue Plan is providing critical relief to rural homeowners and helping to keep more Americans in their homes. USDA is committed to using our resources to help support healthy, resilient and more equitable communities through homeownership.”
Since 1949, USDA has helped 4.7 million families and individuals buy homes in rural areas. USDA Rural Development supports rural homeownership through the following programs:
The Single Family Housing Direct Home Loan Program provides loans directly to families and individuals so they can buy or build homes in rural America. In its lifetime, this program has helped 2.2 million families and individuals purchase a home.
Through its Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program, USDA has partnered with more than 4,000 private lending institutions, backing their loans to help nearly 2 million families and individuals buy homes in rural areas since the program was created in 1991.
The Home Repair Loan and Grant Program provides loans and grants to help families and individuals repair and modernize homes, making them safer, healthier places to live. Since it started in 1950, the programhas helped nearly 434,000 families improve the quality of their homes.
The Mutual Self-Help Housing Grant Program provides grants to qualified organizations to help them carry out local self-help housing construction projects. Through this program, USDA has worked with nearly 230 organizations to provide a unique opportunity for families and individuals to lower the overall purchase price of a new home by investing “sweat equity” into its construction.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
Bourbon County Economic Development Council is working to find a full-time economic development director, facilitate the starting of the new meat process plant, facilitate a new multi-purpose arena, and expanding housing in the area, according to Greg Motley, president.
BEDCO began a search for an economic development director a few months ago and had one narrowed down, but that person has declined the position, Greg Motley, president of BEDCO said.
“The process was restarted,” Motley said. “In the meantime, I will be acting director.”
“We will continue interviews until the position is filled,”he said.
“Since 1992, BEDCO has been at the center of Economic Development in Bourbon County, and under the guidance of a reconstituted board that represents the whole county, we are stronger than ever,” Motley said in a press release.
Economic development services provided by BEDCO are primarily matching resources to the economic needs of county entities and businesses, he said.
Motley gave some details of three other projects on the horizon.
Meat Processing Plant
“Since the Micro-meat processing plant was approved, we are moving forward with facilitating the land/lots swap between KW Cattle, Billy Madison and BEDCO,” he said.
“KW Cattle is swapping 46 acres south of the (KDOT )State Highway facility on the east side of 69 Highway for two industrial park tracts,” Motley said. “One is about seven acres, the other is about 18 acres, currently owned by BEDCO. They are located on either side of the Christian Learning Center. The new micro-meat processing facility will pay BEDCO some cash considerations, approximately equal to BEDCO’s expenses in the transaction.”
KW Cattle is doing a trade with BEDCO that is advantageous to the community, Motley said.
“They are trading 46 acres, a nice piece of flat ground, for less valuable property of rough ground of 25 acres,” he said. “They wanted to help Fort Scott and Bourbon County. In addition, they can expand the property they own, Christian Learning Center, in the future.”
“BEDCO will take possession (of the land parcel), then sell to the meat processing plant,” he said. “It should be finalized this month.”
“We are also working with local investors on a potential STAR Bonds project for Bourbon County,” he said. “Some Bourbon County citizens are proposing the issuance of Star Bonds to partially finance a new multipurpose arena in Bourbon County, along with improvements to the downtown central business district.”
“The bonds are paid off through the sales tax revenue generated by the development.”
“The intent is to increase regional and national visitation to Kansas.”
“The bonds would cover about 50% of the project, and private investment, along with bank financing would cover the balance, he said. ” The Star Bonds would be repaid by the increase in sales tax collections in a Star Bond District, whose boundaries are yet to be determined.”
“Atchison, KS, a similar-sized community to Fort Scott and Bourbon County, issued $2.3 million in Star Bonds in 2019 to build a museum,” he said. “Attached is a chart of all Star Bonds approved by the State of Kansas. Preliminary estimates of the size of the Bourbon County project range from $3 million to $6 million.”
Orig. Amt (000)
2019 Out. (000)
Dist. Sales Tax (000)
2019 CO. Pop
10-yr Pop. Trend
2019 CO. Sales Tax (000)
2018-19 % increase
2019 Sales Tax Per Capita
2019 Pull Fact.
Dodge City- FO
Garden City- FY
Kansas City- WY
Kansas City- WY
Mercy Park (SKC)
Kansas City- WY
Kansas City- WY
Flint Hills Discovery
Overland Park- JO
Overland Park- JO
BluHawk Mixed Use
Fort Scott- BB
“Bottom line, we are looking at what has been successful elsewhere,” Motley said.
“We are examining possibilities to expand housing in Bourbon County,” Motley said. “BEDCO is in the research and discussions phase. Common sense would dictate that we first examine where the market is hot and see what can be done about enhancing the market in those areas.”
“Many jurisdictions in Kansas have a property improvement tax rebate of some sort, that rebate the increase in taxes property experiences, because of a new build or significant addition,” he said. “Many are reluctant to improve their property because of inherent tax increases…a program like this would rebate the first five years of the increase.”
At the Good Neighbor Action Team kick-off meeting on March 18, there was lots of energy and ideas, according to Craig Campbell who is spearheading the helping group.
Following are the notes from Campbell about the meeting.
“We have started a curbside limb pick up.
“Starts today (March 19) and will go until no longer needed.
“We would appreciate assistance when loading at the property, if able, and a donation to the GNAT in care of the city.
“They would text 620-224-0167 to schedule the service.
“We lead off the meeting with a talk by (Bourbon County Appraiser) Clint Anderson. It is a common misconception that maintaining your home such as paint, window repair, siding repair, will increase the valuation and thus increase taxes.
“We had similar concerns during the East Wall Street Blitz in May 2015.
“At that time, we had Judy Wallis, county appraiser, attend a meeting with residents to go over the specifics of the effects of repairs on property valuations.
“If painting were to take a house on the appraiser list from sub standard to standard, that would raise the valuation slightly. To offset that, the homeowner can apply for a Neighborhood Revitalization Program waiver of 95% of the increase for 5 to 15 years depending on the type of property.
This program is available for repairs, renovations, or new construction at any time.
“Next, new (Fort Scott) city manager Jeremy Frazier spoke about his experience with a similar group to GNAT called Cushing Pride. They had monthly work days to pick up trash, paint, and other things.
“Bailey Lyons is organizing a downtown clean up for April 16th at 3 p.m.
“It was thought that we would use that time coupled with Earth Day on the 22nd to have a GNAT clean up day on Saturday the 17th from 8-11 a.m.
“The location of the effort will be determined in the next couple of days.
“We are most likely going to have a standing day of projects going forward.
“The team liked the idea of every 3rd Saturday from 8-11 a.m.
“We would start with a few minutes of donuts and coffee, conversation, then work. We will still assist citizens with individual projects.
“We are exploring having a t-shirt for volunteers and may seek corporate sponsorship to preserve the GNAT funds.
“We are creating a team of volunteers that will assist citizens to fill out forms from the USDA 504 Repair program.
“Many times people contact us to volunteer but the physical work is not possible.
“Helping people complete government forms and assist in the follow up is a great what for them to help.
“These forms allow homeowners to apply for grants and/or low interest loans up to $15,000. These grants or loans can be used to repair heating or cooling units, roofs, winterize windows and doors, painting, to name just a few.
“We have set a goal of bringing into Bourbon County $200,000 in 2021.”
Good Neighbor Action Team is gathering resources and also looking forward to helping people with projects in the community of Fort Scott.
If a person is interested in serving on the committee, organizing a group of friends, co-workers, a civic club, relatives, or your neighborhood, contact Craig Campbell on the Good Neighbor Action Team Facebook page.
The first organizational meeting of the 2021 GNAT season is at 4 p.m. on March 18 at Fort Scott City Hall.
“Clint Anderson, the Bourbon County Appraiser, will speak on the topic of GNAT projects and the impact on assessed valuations of the property,” Campbell said. “AndJeremy Frazier, Fort Scott City Manager, will speak on his experience with a similar organization in Cushing, OK.”
“I am willing to meet with citizens in small groups if unable to attend the first meeting on the 18th,” Campbell said.
Interested people are encouraged to attend the meeting.
Ideas will be discussed for this year’s projects.
For over a decade the Good Neighbor Action Team has been helping Fort Scottians with painting, helping rid yards of debris, building handicap ramps, and other needed projects.
The team provides help for those who are not able to do the job themselves.
GNAT has tried to handle the project workloads using the model of Habitat For Humanity, Campbell said.
Work project recipients are asked to provide family and friends to assist GNAT workers.
For example, if GNAT provides five people, the recipient will need to bring five people to help with the project, he said in the prior feature.
In addition, proof of income is required with one of the following: income tax return, pay stubs from the last two paychecks, a Vision card or Healthwave card.
Governor Kelly Announces $200 Million In Statewide Rental Assistance
~ Funding provides housing support to prevent evictions and homelessness ~
TOPEKA – Today, Governor Kelly and the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation announced $200 million in statewide rental assistance. The initiative, funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, provides the state of Kansas with $200 million to support housing stability and prevent evictions and homelessness.
“COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for Kansans, and it is more important than ever to keep our families safe in their homes,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “The $200 million funding for rental assistance will go a long way to prevent evictions and homelessness, and ensure Kansans can stay sheltered and secure while we continue to fight this virus.”
Kansans struggling to cover rent and utility payments due to COVID may qualify for up to 12 months of emergency assistance thanks to new federal relief. Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) and the City of Wichita will administer the funds.
“Home has never been more important,” said Ryan Vincent, KHRC Executive Director. “Home has always been a place of shelter, but in the midst of the pandemic it’s also become our virtual workplace, classroom, and gathering space. Rental assistance protects Kansans’ access to home when they need it most.”
Tenants may qualify for assistance if they earn no more than 80 percent of their area’s median income, are experiencing documented financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic and may be at risk of housing instability or homelessness without assistance.
“In unprecedented times of hardship, it’s imperative that we step up to provide security to those in need,” said Sally Stang, Director of Housing and Community Services for the City of Wichita. “Everyone needs a little help now and then, and we want to ensure that families and individuals who need help to stay in their homes receive it.”
Kansans living outside the Wichita city limits may apply through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program administered by KHRC. The online KERA application will open on Monday, March 15, 2021.
The KERA and WERAP programs follow the 2020 Kansas Eviction Prevention Program (KEPP), a $20 million assistance initiative administered by KHRC with federal CARES Act funding. In the roughly 60 days that the program was in statewide operation, KHRC received 10,138 applications for more than $25 million requested in assistance, representing 27,200 Kansans financially impacted by COVID.
About the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC)
The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) is a public corporation committed to helping Kansans access the safe, affordable housing they need and the dignity they deserve. KHRC serves as the state’s housing finance agency (HFA), administering housing and community programs to serve Kansans. This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number ERA0032 awarded to Kansas Housing Resources Corporation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Biden Administration Announces Another Foreclosure Moratorium and Mortgage Forbearance Deadline Extension That Will Bring Relief to Rural Residents
USDA Extends Evictions and Foreclosure Moratorium to June 30, 2021 and Provides Additional Guidance for Servicing Loans Impacted by COVID-19
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2021—The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through June 30, 2021.
The actions announced today will bring relief to residents in rural America who have housing loans through USDA.
“USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States. That’s why USDA is taking this important action today to extend relief to the hundreds-of-thousands of individuals and families holding USDA Single Family Housing loans,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. “While today’s actions are an important step for them, we need to do more. The Biden Administration is working closely with Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan to take more robust and aggressive actions to bring additional relief to American families and individuals impacted by the pandemic.”
A recent Census Bureau survey showed that 8.2 million homeowners are currently behind on mortgage payments, and of that 8.2 million, 3 million homeowners behind on payments were Black or Hispanic.
This effort underscores a commitment by USDA to bring relief and assistance to farmers, families and communities across the country who are in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic
. In January, USDA took action to bring relief to more than 12,000 distressed borrowers of USDA farm loans by temporarily suspending past-due debt collections, foreclosures, non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and more. Learn more here.
Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for additional information on USDA’s Rural Development COVID-19 relief efforts, application deadline extensions and more.
USDA Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as additional actions are taken to bring relief and development to rural America.
Homeowners and renters can also visit www.consumerfinance.gov/housing for up-to-date information on their relief options, protections, and key deadlines from USDA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Foreclosure Moratorium Extension
The actions announced today make it possible for the foreclosure and eviction moratorium announced by USDA, Single Family Housing Direct Loan Program (SFHDLP) and the Single
Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) on Jan. 20, 2021, to be extended until June 30, 2021. The moratorium does not apply in cases where USDA or the servicing lender has
documented the property is vacant or abandoned.
Lenders may continue to provide impacted borrowers relief by offering forbearance of the borrower guaranteed loan payment for up to 180 days.
In addition, the initial forbearance period
may be extended up to an additional 180 days at the borrower’s request. Lenders may approve the initial 180-day COVID-19 forbearance no later than June 30, 2021
.SFHGLP borrowers that received a COVID-19 forbearance prior to June 30, 2020, may be granted up to two additional
three-month payment forbearances. Lenders should outline potential solutions that may be available at the end of the forbearance period and explain to borrowers that a lump sum payment of the arrearage will not be required.
During the forbearance options outlined above, no accrual of fees, penalties or interest should be charged to the borrower beyond the amounts calculated as if the borrower had made all
contractual payments in a timely fashion.
Post Forbearance Options
Upon completion of the forbearance, the lender shall work with the borrower to determine if they can resume making regular payments and, if so, either offer an affordable repayment plan or term extension to defer any missed payments to the end of the loan.
If the borrower is unable to resume making regular payments, the lender should evaluate the borrower for special relief measures, which include Term Extensions, Capitalization and Term Extensions, and a Mortgage
Questions regarding program policy and this announcement may be directed to the National Office Division at sfhglpServicing@usda.gov or (202) 720-1452.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business
development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
The City of Fort Scott announces another significant downtown rehabilitation has been completed. Fort Scott received back-to-back multi-million-dollar investments from Flint Hills Holdings which speaks to the character of our community and those who have represented us.
Elected officials, business owners, and community enthusiasts who supported the renovation are invited to tour the Union Lofts.
Tours will be on Friday, February 5th offered from 12pm to 2pm.
Governor’s Council on Tax Reform Releases Second Interim Report
TOPEKA – A second interim report by the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform is issued in the wake of the last legislative session being cut short by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The report for consideration by the Kansas Legislature includes additional research of possible economic implications to the state caused by the pandemic.
Governor Laura Kelly established the bipartisan Governor’s Council on Tax Reform through Executive Order No. 19-11, which has since extended its formation.
The Council was tasked with conducting an in-depth assessment of the state’s tax structure, to explore strategies that increase both effectiveness and fairness, and receive input from stakeholders across the state.
The governor continues to recommend returning to the “three-legged stool” approach that relies on a sensible balance of income, sales, and property tax revenue.
The Council will continue to review aspects of state and local finances and how best to respond to federal tax law changes, the taxation of groceries as part of sales tax revenue, and how to best provide targeted property tax relief. The Council also is charged with determining how much room will be available in future budget projections for tax relief.
“I am pleased with the extensive work the Council has performed for the sound recommendations that will return the state to a balanced approach of sales, income and property taxes,” Governor Laura Kelly said.