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Housing unit loan to be paid off PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 20 November 2015 20:30

The government loan on the Wauneta Housing Authority duplex units will be paid off two years early and will then belong to the Village of Wauneta. (Russ Pankonin | The Wauneta Breeze)

By Russ Pankonin

The Wauneta Breeze


They look pretty much like they did when they were built in 1977—only 38 years older.

For nearly 40 years, the three duplex units of the Wauneta Housing Authority on West  Kiowa Street have provided much-needed housing in Wauneta.

The units were financed with a 40-year loan from the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA).

Community leaders Gene Harchelroad and Bernie Steinert, both now deceased, signed the original mortgage papers for $138,930.

Over the years, rents from the units have been used to pay down that mortgage but that’s coming to an end two years early.

Leanne Hunt, manager of the housing authority, met with the Wauneta village board last week to discuss retiring the mortgage.

She said the authority has a one-time window  each year when they can declare intentions to pay off the loan.

She noted the outstanding balance of the loan is about $12,000.

Village board members felt now is the appropriate time to pay off the mortgage and gave her the go-ahead to proceed.

After the mortgage is retired, the duplex units become property of the Village of Wauneta.

Presently, there are income guidelines tenants must meet to qualify to live in the units. Rent is based on the income questionnaire.

Hunt said one decision the board will need to make will be whether to continue to accept rent assistance vouchers.

If the village accepts the rent vouchers, then it will continue to fall under the rules and fair housing standards now in effect.

The other option would be to not accept the rent vouchers and rent the units at market rate.

Hunt said tenants have been notified of the possible change and have a comment period available to them.

She said a several of the current tenants have questioned her on whether the vouchers will continue to be accepted.

Hunt said it could be this spring before the ownership transfer to the village could be made.

Board members said tenants can be assured that no changes in the rent structure will be made until the ownership change occurs. Prior to that, the board will make a decision on how to proceed.

Today, the rentals fall under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency.

When the FmHA was dissolved in 2006, its housing and community programs were transferred to the newly formed Rural Development agency.

The duplexes were completed in December 1977 and were built by Kielo Construction, owned by Kieth and Lorraine Larsen. The Larsens also owned the lumber yard, Home Lumber, in Wauneta.