A new housing development in Columbus got a much-needed assist to get the project underway.
Habitat for Humanity of Columbus recently was given a $50,000 Community Development Assistance Act award for its previously announced Hope Addition 2, a planned 16-home neighborhood on approximately 4 acres of land between 13th and 14th streets, perpendicular to 41st Avenue. The grant enables the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to distribute a 40% state tax credit to businesses, insurance firms, corporations and individuals that make eligible cash contributions or provide services/materials to certain approved community betterment projects.
For example, a person or business that contributes $10,000 to the Habitat project might get an initial $4,000 state tax credit. And, if eligible, they will also have the potential for an additional $3,400 in tax savings as an itemized deduction. That would make their net contributor investment $2,600.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Habitat Board of Directors Secretary Melanie Knoepfle, whose financial consultant work with Thrivent Financial has gone hand in hand with Habitat due to the two organizations’ partnership.
Thrivent Financial has provided half of the funding for each Habitat house built for the last five years.
“As a financial consultant, I think it would be a huge benefit to members of our community who are inclined to give,” Knoepfle said. "It would also be a benefit to them on their taxes as a result of doing so.”
Habitat Executive Director Lori Peters was undoubtedly happy about the recent award.
“Hopefully it brings more large donations on board because this project is such a good benefit to the people and businesses who are contributing,” she said.
Peters said the planned development has received some financial support, noting organizations like the Columbus Area Future Fund, Valmont Industries and TK Industries have been generous. But, she acknowledged there haven’t been as many donations as hoped. The grant will only further incentivize people and businesses, she said, noting the estimate to complete the project has swelled to about $600,000 due to rising costs with concrete and other engineering aspects of construction.
“Our Growing Together Capital Campaign to fund the New Hope 2 Addition is a way for our community to come together to take collective action and generate solutions with a large scale project,” Peters said. “Receiving the CDAA increases the incentive for others to come along on that journey. Habitat’s success increases Columbus’ overall well-being as a community. This is a project that will take the collective action of the community to solve everyday, common problems in a broad way.
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“We are glad there is a system to provide a benefit back to those who can contribute to the solution.”
Habitat Board of Directors Vice President Bryan Chochon said the CDAA award is a victory for the nonprofit and Columbus as a whole.
“It kind of validates what we’re doing when we get something like this,” Chochon said, reiterating Habitat’s mission to provide affordable housing to those who otherwise might not be able to get it. “Us being awarded this shows what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is important to other people as well, that we’re doing a good job. It shows our commitment.”
Habitat will be busy for the foreseeable future. The nonprofit previously announced plans to tackle two house builds this year (homes No. 10 and 11 overall) – the first time it has ever done that in its decade of existence. One will takes place as part of its New Hope Addition 1 initiative, while the other is a new effort made specifically for military families.
For the second year, Habitat representatives have partnered with Thrivent Financial and local churches for a Faith Build where Thrivent provides about $55,000 toward the newest project and churches band together – in collaboration with Habitat – to foot the rest of the bill. New this year, though, is a Habitat for Heroes build being made possible by a memorandum of understanding with Habitat for Humanity International.
Habitat is also actively working to ensure its initial New Hope Addition, close in proximity to the second, reaches its full capacity. The nonprofit will continue to build there for the next several years, Peters noted, before transitioning to New Hope Addition 2. Fundraising for the latter now will allow officials to get construction going quickly when the times comes.
“It takes a long time to do a development. It takes three to four years to get ready, so it’s essential we get moving on it,” Peters said, noting the intent is to also complete the engineer plot plan this year in which the engineer will draw out where the homes go on the land and get city approval.
“This year, 2020, will be about phase one – fundraising. We want to pay off the purchase of that (the New Hope Addition 2 land) we bought, celebrate our 10 years of Habitat and build those two houses we have planned.
“It’s going to be a big year.”
Those who wish to contribute can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a check to PO Box 1792.
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.