Category Archives: Housing

Upper Floor Housing in Kansas Main Street Communities Are Eligible For Grants

Upper Floor Housing Grants Available for Designated Main Street Communities

TOPEKA – Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland announced today $400,000 is available under the Residential Opportunities on Main Street (ROOMS) grant program to support new upper-floor housing in commercial buildings in Designated Kansas Main Street communities.

“Main Street communities across the state long have been revitalizing their historic business districts and supporting economic vitality,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Increasing the amount of available upper-floor housing is essential to maximizing the economic potential of Main Streets across Kansas. ROOMS grants provide another powerful tool to breathe new life into their downtown areas.”

Upper-floor investments create new housing opportunities and can play an important role in addressing the shortage of quality housing, which regularly is identified as a major issue throughout Kansas. Upper-floor housing enhances the overall livability and functionality of downtowns. It also can lead to increased investment, improved infrastructure, a positive cycle of economic growth, a stronger tax base, and a greater sense of place and community identity.

“These types of projects are expensive and require funding from multiple sources,” Kansas Main Street Director Scott Sewell said. “The ROOMS grants offer a tremendous opportunity to help make these kinds of projects happen.”

ROOMS funds will be available to applicants within active Designated Kansas Main Street communities for projects that can be shown to lead directly to housing creation or retention in upper floors of existing buildings in the designated downtown area. Projects must incorporate Main Street design standards and follow local ordinances and code for improvements. Each eligible applicant may receive a single $50,000 grant.

To view a webinar recording about the ROOMS grant program, click here. For more information about the Kansas Main Street program, click here.

About the Kansas Department of Commerce:

As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, the nation and world. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses. Through Commerce’s project successes, Kansas was awarded Area Development Magazine’s prestigious Gold Shovel award in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and was awarded the 2021 and 2022 Governor’s Cup by Site Selection Magazine.


New Apartments Are Coming To Fort Scott


The inside of a property that will be similar to the Fort Scott property. Submitted photo.

The former Fort Scott Manor Nursing Home, 736 Heylman Street, will soon be 24 standard market apartments.

Shane Lamb, president of Rural Asset Management and  Rural Redevelopment Group, De Soto, KS. decided to take on the development project, even after not receiving grants to help.

“We didn’t receive any state or federal grants or funds,” he said. “We did apply for them but did not receive any. I am doing this on our own.”

“The rental complex hasn’t been named yet,” he said. “We will in the coming weeks.”

The building is approximately 20,000 square feet. “It’s been completely gutted and new everything,” Lamb said.

Lamb purchased the Fort Scott Manor property in January of 2022, he said. “It was closed down by the state several years ago, then went through bankruptcy proceedings. I believe it had been closed for three years.”

A look at a rental unit that Lamb’s business is working on in Iola. Submitted photo.

The Fort Scott property will not be low-income apartment rentals but instead will be for the standard market.

“We focus on rural towns and rural housing,” he said. “Typically, we purchase nursing homes, schools, hospitals…single-use vacant properties we convert to housing.”

“We should have the majority of the repairs done in the next six months and plan to have it 100 percent completed and occupied by winter,” Lamb said.

Submitted photo of a property rental that is being constructed in Iola that will be similar to the Fort Scott rentals.  Submitted photo.

Lamb said he always tries to use qualified local contractors and buy materials locally.

“I always try to keep the money local,” he said. “It doesn’t work 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you can’t find local partners to meet those deadlines…because they are so busy.”

Work trucks line the driveway of the former Fort Scott Manor. Submitted photo.

Lamb said there was a glitch in the Iola project that paused it for several years.

“W had a neighbor that was on a city council that blocked rezoning for almost 4 years,” Lamb said in a later interview.  “The project has since started and is being remodeled as we speak. The project is slated to be done within a year.”

Restoration of Historic Building at 6th and Main Is In The Works

The historic building facade at 6th and Main is having its masonry restored by Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott in this February 26, 2024 photo.

The historic building at 6th and Main Streets in Fort Scott is in the process of being restored.

The building is owned by Al and Luanna Niece and was purchased in June 2023, according to a prior interview.

Nieces Are Working to Renovate the Payne Building At 6th and Main

“It’s a total restoration of the building,” said Chase Halsey, Co-Vice President of Mid-Continental Restoration, Fort Scott.

Koehn Construction, Fredonia, is the general contractor of the project and Mid-Continental is a sub-contractor doing the masonry restoration, which includes the brick replacement, stone replacement, tuckpointing, and stripping of the building, and in addition, will be doing the new window installations, Halsey said.

Koehn Construction did the demolition of the interior and are “pouring concrete in the basement. Getting more of the fittings in. We are pouring the slab this week,” said Brandon Koehn, a manager at Koehn Construction.

Luanna Neice said she thought they were right on schedule “probably next week steele will go up on the inside.”

The building is two stories with a walk-out basement, Koehn said, and the inside had been destroyed by a fire.

Koehn said the building should be mostly complete by mid-summer.

A Mid-Continental Restoration worker is stripping the facade of the building in this February 26, 2024 photo at 6th and Main in Fort Scott.

The building will house two apartments on the second floor, an ice cream shop on the first floor, which is street level and the basement is slated to be a gentleman’s bar, according to Niece.


Jeff Armstrong: New Realtor in Fort Scott


Jeff Armstrong. Submitted photo.

Jeff Armstrong obtained his real estate license in the fall of 2021. and he joined  Front Door Real Estate in August of 2022.

“I look forward to assisting sellers/buyers through the quagmire of home real estate,” he said.  “Besides children, home ownership is one of the largest and possibly most stressful financial responsibilities for adults.  My purpose as a real estate agent is to work alongside the client to facilitate transactions, clarify areas of uncertainty, listen and identify the client’s needs/wants, and create an atmosphere of trust.”

“There are many high-quality realtors in Fort Scott, so I am constantly reading, listening, and learning to provide the exceptional service clients deserve,” he said.

My original purpose of getting my license revolved around owning and managing a piece of commercial real estate in town, however, like many short-term goals, I pivoted,” he said.
 “I run and operate a pressure washing business (Armstrong Pressure Washing) out of Fort Scott and did some work for Jared (Leek) back in early 2022,” he said.  “We were just talking and I mentioned I recently earned my real estate license and he graciously asked if I would have interest in joining Front Door.”
 “The wealth of knowledge and expertise at Front Door Real Estate made the decision simple,” he said.  “I am spoiled to be a part of such an amazing group of professionals.  Real estate transactions do demand a certain level of knowledge and problem-solving, but can be wasted without trust, integrity, and communication.  Much like any service profession, real estate is fueled by relationships.”
“Housing markets go up and down, but how we work for our clients supersedes those events and smooths out the rough times and enhances the joyous moments.”
When asked what his community involvement/hobbies/interests are:
As each day passes, I find that my faith in Jesus Christ becomes more and more important to me and all that I do should be done to glorify His holy name.  With kids in middle school and high school, most of my extra time revolves around them and their engagements.  I also own and operate my pressure washing business during the spring/summer/fall months.”
“I am supported and encouraged by my gorgeous wife Jamie and blessed with my two children, Kendal and Jax,” he said.  “My parents, Steve and Janet, provide me wisdom and encouragement even as an adult.”
Contact Info: 620-224-3036, [email protected], Facebook @jeffarmstrong-realtor, 113 S. Main Street

Nieces Are Working to Renovate the Payne Building At 6th and Main


Al and Luanna Niece outside their new purchase, the building at 6th and Main Street, Fort Scott.

Al and Luanna Niece, from Blanco County, TX, purchased the dilapidated building at 6th and Main in June 2023 to renovate.

The Nieces have plans for building at 6th and Main: two apartments, an ice cream shop, and a gentleman’s bar. The building is across the street from the Fisher Park Ballfield.


Al Niece owns Niece Equipment of Kansas and has had a plant in Fort Scott’s Industrial Park, since 2012. The company manufactures, sells, and leases water trucks, fuel/lube trucks, and water towers, according to its website.

“We fell in love with Fort Scott, the community, the downtown,” Luanna said. “We are trying to give back.”

The building was built in 1889, with A. B. Payne as the owner. It was built for apartments and a printing shop, Luanna said. The name of the building was Shultz and Paine.

The Shultz-Paine Building from a postcard in the 1880s. Luanna Neice said Ann Rawlins at the Old Fort Genealogical Society was a great source of information on the building and provided this photo.

One interesting fact discovered in looking at the history of the building: “The building’s owner was friends with Mark Twain,” she said. Twain was a humorist, journalist, lecturer, and novelist who died in 1910.

The Nieces plan to make two apartments on the top floor, one for themselves and one for a rental.

The street-level floor will be renovated to make an old-fashioned “soda jerk fountain and ice cream shop” with candy and “simple foods like hot dogs”, she said.

Luanna and Al Niece stand in front of the future ice cream shop on the south side of the first floor of the building. This entrance will be reconfigured, Al said.

The basement will be Al’s hangout, “Like in the movie ‘Speak Easy’, a gentleman’s bar,” she said. “It will be his mancave, probably called ‘Al’s’.”

From the basement looking up the two stories during demolition. Submitted photo.

“We hope to have renderings (of the future building plans) in about a month,” Al said. They met with the builder last week and hope to be open by next summer, he said.

Koen Construction is the builder, Al said.

What attracted the Nieces was that “this building is a stand-alone one,” she said. “And it has a lot next to it, land. About 6,000-10,000 square feet.”

Looking south from Main Street, the building’s lot is lower than the sidewalk on the left side of this photo.
Some relics from the demolition are the old elevator shaft and gears. Submitted photo.

The Nieces also own the building that houses the Brickstreet BBQ Restaurant, the River Room Event Center, and the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team office on North National.

Brickstreet BBQ is located at the corner of Oak Street and National Avenue on Fort Scott’s northside. The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team office is north of the restaurant.  The River Room Event Center is located on the second floor. Al Niece also owns this building.




New Presbyterian Village Director: Marla Heckman

Marla Heckman. Submitted photo.

Marla Heckman, 52, is the new Fort Scott Presbyterian Village Executive Director.

Heckman is new to Fort Scott.

“My husband, John,  was born in Fort Scott,” she said. ” We were planning on retiring and moving here someday.  There was some property that was going up for sale close to our family, so we decided to change our plans and move back sooner.”

Heckman started on September 5, 2023, as the   Executive Director, “overseeing this wonderful community.  I am so excited to work with the amazing TEAM here,” she said.

She received her education from the University of Oklahoma and is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.

Heckman has 36 years in Healthcare-Independent Living, Assisted Living, Residential Care, Skilled Nursing, and Long-term Care.

“I served on the board for Care Providers Oklahoma, as well as, the Oklahoma State Department of Health Informal Dispute Resolution panel,” she said.

In her spare time she  “loves spending time with family and friends.”

“I have never lived anywhere but Oklahoma, so I am excited to start some new hobbies, maybe gardening and having some chickens,” she said. “I look forward to being involved in the community and helping whenever possible.”

She has four children and 13 grandchildren.


Presbyterian Village, 2401 S. Horton, Fort Scott.

Heckman replaces Ginger Nance as the executive director.


Kansas Housing Update


Summer 2023 | Breaking Ground:

On the Homefront with Kansas Housing


Independence Day has come and gone! The holiday marks the mid-point of summer and all its glory before the sweltering dog days hit. Speaking of dogs, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest shocks us each Fourth of July when contestants consume obscene numbers (63 in 10 minutes is the current record!). The Fourth is the holiday for swimming pools, ice cream, and fireworks (back to those dogs, they’d rather skip the explosions).

My favorite part of Independence Day has always been the neighborhood parades. Since the time our kids were little, we decorated their wagons and bikes and joined our neighbors celebrating the day. As they got older, they marched with the Cub Scouts. There’s always the fire truck, the ragtag group of musicians playing marching band music, sometimes even someone playing bagpipes. Often there’s more folks in the parade than watching it. The sun beats down, the candy, the smiles. Everyone comes out of their houses. Neighbors coming together. Community. To me, it represents everything that the Fourth can and should be.

Our slogan at Kansas Housing is that we Unlock Home. It’s critical to the individuals and families we serve. But it goes beyond the walls and fence. By investing in homes, we create new neighbors, we foster new community, we embrace our common bonds that hold us together.

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we reflect that our nation starts with each of us, together, united and indivisible. Home is the building block of it all. So whether you celebrate in a neighborhood parade or lighting that sparkler, we wish you and yours a wonderful summer.

– Ryan Vincent, Executive Director

Breaking Ground is a quarterly newsletter from Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC), the state’s housing finance agency. We hope you’ll follow along to keep up on the latest Kansas housing news! Update your subscription preferences anytime.

Housing Development

Kansas Housing awards millions in MIH, MIH-ARPA funds and KHITC for rural development

Fifteen Kansas communities will receive a combined total of $4,925,400 in MIH funds, $8,475,000 in MIH-ARPA funds, and 6,441,000 in Kansas Housing Investor Tax Credit (KHITC) to develop affordable housing for moderate-income families in rural areas of the state. The awards, made possible through the state of Kansas’ Moderate Income Housing (MIH), MIH-American Rescue Plan Act (MIH-ARPA), and Kansas Housing Investor Tax Credit (KHITC) Programs, provide resources to develop housing in rural communities.


Combined with the amount leveraged by each community to support the proposed initiatives, the awards represent a total investment of $141,077,730 and a net gain of 544 affordable, quality housing units.

Read more.


Kansas Housing awards the second round of State Affordable Housing Tax Credits

In April, Kansas Housing received 11 applications for the 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), equating to more than $254 million in Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for the second of three application rounds. Of the five applications awarded, the approved LIHTCs and PABs will build 305 new units and rehabilitate 398 existing affordable units.

Read more. 

Celebrating Homeownership
Putting Down Roots: Becoming a First-Time Homebuyer

Misty Brown and her two children had been renting their Wichita home for four years when she started planning to buy a permanent home in Derby, where her children attend school and many of her family members live. The move was sparked by her sister, Tiffany, who had recently purchased her own Derby home with the help of down payment and closing cost assistance through the state’s First Time Homebuyer program. Because their finances were similar, Brown thought, “If she got approved, I might get approved; I might as well try.”


Brown reached out to Tiffany’s lender to determine if she may be eligible. “My lender did everything,” Brown said. “She told me what documents to send, and I was pre-approved in August 2022.” She worked with a real estate agent to find a house, and by January 2023, her family moved into their permanent home, just 43 seconds away from her sister’s driveway. She says saving up to buy a home “would have been a much longer process” without the down payment and closing cost assistance provided by the First Time Homebuyer program.


Read more.


Kansas Housing announces youth art contest honorees, unveils Statehouse exhibition

KHRC announced top entries in its statewide youth art contest at the end of June. The initiative, held to commemorate National Homeownership Month and KHRC’s 20th anniversary, invited K-12 Kansas students to share their vision of what home means to them. Honorees and their families were recognized at a special reception at the Kansas State Capitol, and their artwork remained on display in the rotunda through July 7.

Read more.

Our 18th annual Kansas Housing Conference will bring together housing professionals from across the state and region to network, learn, and explore the latest trends and innovations in affordable housing.

Join us August 22-24, 2023 at the Overland Park Convention Center!

We’re kicking off this year’s Kansas Housing Conference in style with a with a 1920s-themed welcome reception to commemorate our 20th year as we toast two decades of helping Kansans access the safe, affordable housing they need and the dignity they deserve.

Aug. 21 | 5:00 -7:00 p.m.

Overland Park Convention Center Ballroom

RSVP through the conference registration process!

Check out our News page for an archive of KHRC News.

Read KHRC News

Kansas Housing Resources Corporation

611 S Kansas Ave., Suite 300 | Topeka, KS 66603

[email protected]

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Kansas Housing Resources Corporation | 611 S. Kansas, Suite 300, Topeka, KS 66603

House To Be Auctioned To Benefit Fort Scott Parks

Chris Yoder, Devon, and three of his sons, Melvin, Willard and Joseph, work on stabilizing the roof of the  house at 1311 S. National in January 2018.
1311 S. National Avenue, May 2023.


The vacant house at 1311 S. National Avenue has the beginning work of rehabilitation done by several volunteers and others.


“We were notified by the Fort Scott Codes Department in 2017 of a house on National that they thought could be rehabbed,” said Carolyn Sinn, a member of the Youth Activity Team, which took on the project to repair then sell the house to benefit Fort Scott’s Ellis Park.

A veteran living in the home at the time was relocated.

“He was relocated with help from a lot of people in the community,” Sinn said. “To a quality place.”

The city thought the house was salvageable and YAT paid $4, 101 for it, which included the prior years taxes, she said.

The Youth Activities Team, the Good Neighbor Action Team and the Fort Scott Fire Department helped with the demolition, Sinn said.

A new roof and windows (paid for by Peerless Products, Fort Scott) were put on the house.

“We hired Amish carpenters to repair the porch and stabilize the garage,” she said. “Jeff Allen did some electrical work for us a donation.”

Then the COVID-19 Pandemic happened.

“The work got stopped,” she said. “During COVID, materials got out of control.”

All together they have invested approximately $26,000 in the house.

“When it was over, we looked at it again and decided to sell the house and hopefully get it back on the tax rolls,” Sinn said.

The YAT asked the City of Fort Scott to auction it off and any money made will be transferred to the parks committee, to be used for sensory park equipment, she said. Sensory equipment allows more easily accessed playgrounds for children of all abilities.

The City of Fort Scott voted to allow the YAT to sell the house at the commission meeting on May 16, 2023.

The original YAT was comprised of Sinn, Eric Bailey, Laura George, Tom Roberts, Paul Martin, Larry Fink and Diana Mitchell.

Following the sale of the house, the YAT will be dissolved, Sinn said.

“We have a lot of enthusiastic people in the community now,” she said.

Through the years YAT has raised money for upgrades and improvement to Ellis Park, on 12th Street, near the Fort Scott Middle School.

They installed lighting, put in a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a walking trail, and UMB Bank helped with building a pavilion at the park.

“With the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team we raised $37,600 for the sensory equipment in the park,” Sinn said. “That money we gave to the city parks committee for sensory equipment in the park on Dec. 14, 2022.”



The Cold Weather Rule ends March 31

TOPEKA – The Cold Weather Rule ends on Friday, March 31. That means Kansans who are behind on electric and natural gas utility bills will be subject to disconnection of service unless they contact their utility company to make payment arrangements. March 31 is also the last day to apply for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program or LIEAP, a federally funded program administered by the Kansas Department of Children and Families. LIEAP applications must be received by the Kansas DCF office by 5 p.m. on Friday.  The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) urges all customers facing financial difficulties to act now to stay connected.

The Cold Weather Rule, in effect from November 1 through March 31, provides protection from disconnection to residential customers served by utilities regulated by the KCC when temperatures are forecast to drop below 35 degrees within the following 48-hour period. When the rule is in effect, regulated utilities are also required to offer a Cold Weather 12-month payment plan upon request, even if a previous payment plan has been broken.

When that protection ends on Friday, failure to make arrangements or failure to adhere to an already established payment plan could result in disconnection. Reconnection after March 31 may require past due balances be paid in full, depending on the utility’s policy. That is why it is important to call now – while regulated utilities are still required to offer the Cold Weather Rule 12-month payment plan.

The Cold Weather Rule 12-month payment plans require an initial payment of 1/12 of the overdue amount, 1/12 of the bill for current service, the full amount of any disconnection or reconnection fees, plus any applicable deposit owed to the utility. The balance is billed in equal payments over the next 11 months in addition to the regular monthly bill.

It is important to note that the KCC does not regulate co-ops or municipal utilities, although many of those utilities also offer a cold weather payment plan. For a complete list of utilities regulated by the KCC visit:

To find out more about utility assistance programs in your area, please contact your utility or the KCC Consumer Protection Office at 800-662-0027 or 785-271-3140. Utility assistance program information is also posted on the KCC’s website.


FS Manor Property to be Developed Into Apartments, If Grant is Approved

Fort Scott Manor is located at 736 S. Heylman.

The Fort Scott City Commission approved a resolution to support an application by a Desoto, KS  property developer to turn the former Fort Scott Manor Nursing Home into apartments.

Following that approval, Shane Lamb, Rural ReDevelopment Group LLC, sent a Housing Investors Tax Credit application in for the property located on Fort Scott’s west side at 736 S. Heylman.

Lamb and Susan Galemore, who is with Southeast Kansas Economic Development Coalition, appeared together before the commission on Feb. 7. Galemore helped Lamb prepare the application.

Lamb has applied for tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation to develop the property into 19 rental units.

“Fifteen will be one-bedroom units, four will be two-bedroom units,” Lamb said. “It is on less than two acres and the building is approximately 20,000 square feet.”

Lamb purchased the Fort Scott Manor property in January of 2022, he said. “It was closed down by the state several years ago, then went through bankruptcy proceedings. I believe it has been closed for three years.”

The Fort Scott property will not be low-income apartment rentals, Galemore said. “They will be standard market, not income based.”

“We focus on rural towns and rural housing,” he said.   “Typically, we purchase nursing homes, schools, hospitals…single-use vacant properties we convert to housing.”

“We have 13 projects completed across different states, the closest to Fort Scott is one in Yates Center,” Lamb said. “We have 18 projects in the works.”

The grants are very competitive, Lamb said. “If I don’t get it the first time, we can apply again. I think it is every three months.”

The grants awarded are based on the communities need, he said. “Which community needs housing more than others.”

“I am on their timeline,” he said. “Once I get the green light, I can start and have 18 months to finish.”

Lamb said he always tries to use qualified local contractors and buy materials locally.

“I always try to keep the money local,” he said. “It doesn’t work 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you can’t find local partners to meet those deadlines…because they are so busy.”

Lamb said he should know by the end of March 2023 if he was awarded the grant.







Kansas Homeowner Assistance Fund in hold phase

New applications to be reviewed, processed subject to availability of funds


The Kansas Homeowner Assistance Fund (KHAF), a federally funded, temporary emergency program to support homeowners experiencing hardship during the COVID pandemic, has dispersed nearly all program funds and will close soon. KHAF was established with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help qualifying Kansas homeowners get current on their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. Since the program launched in April 2022, KHAF has provided $42,599,772 to 3,797 households.

The KHAF program is now in the Hold Phase, the second of three closure phases. On January 30, 2023, households were encouraged to apply for assistance as soon as possible. The program has now received enough applications to exhaust all current funds, ending Final Funding phase. Applications submitted during Final Funding Phase will still be reviewed and processed, subject to available funding.


The closure process will follow three phases. Here’s what this means for Kansas homeowners in need of assistance:

1. Final Funding Phase: On Jan. 30, 2023, homeowners seeking KHAF support were encouraged to apply to be considered for final funding.

2. Hold Phase: The program has received enough applications to fully expend all KHAF funds. Applications submitted during Hold Phase will be placed on hold and will not be reviewed or processed unless sufficient program funds are available.

3. Closure Phase: When all program funds are exhausted the program will close and will stop accepting new applications.

The KHAF program is now in Hold Phase. The length and dates of each phase will be subject to a variety of factors, including application volume and amount of assistance requested. Each program closure phase will be announced on the KHAF webpage.


For more questions, applicants can reach KHAF customer service at 855-307-KHAF (5423), or review the KHAF closure FAQs. KHRC’s ongoing housing programs will continue to serve Kansans beyond the closure of the KHAF program.



The KHAF program is administered by Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC), a self-supporting, nonprofit, 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, administering essential housing and community programs to serve Kansans.

Kansas Housing Resources Corporation

611 S Kansas Ave., Suite 300 | Topeka, KS 66603

[email protected]