Finding affordable housing in Ellis County can be a key issue facing new members to the community. Aaron White has said this since his arrival in 2011.

As executive director for the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, it’s an issue for which White has tried to help find a solution. In trying to do so, the Ellis County Housing Rehab Program was established.

The Dane G. Hansen Foundation in Logan lended a substantial hand recently in the amount of a $400,000 grant.

Now, it’s a matter of the Ellis County Development Corp. putting the finishing touch on a loan document that will be given to any licensed contractor willing to take on a home rehab project anywhere in Ellis County, within limits. A seven-member committee will be put together to oversee the loans given to them for approval. The contractor does not have to be from Ellis County.

“We’re pretty excited about the program and hope to see a lot of good projects come out of it,” White said.

The idea of the housing project came somewhat from a conversation White said he had with a local businessman who knew of a contractor who at one time had wanted to start a similar project of flipping homes for something of an affordable price to purchase them. The problem was coming up with the funding for it to work.

Speaking to people from businesses and industry around the county, White said one main issue he found was places were having trouble hiring people from outside the area and being able to have them stay because of unaffordable housing. The idea of coming up with a housing program certainly seemed plausible to White.

“It’s something we’ve always knew was a problem and was impacting Hays and Ellis County to some extent,” White said. “The details of this particular program as a means to help is to help improve the housing situation. We’ve kind of crafted it over the last year and a half.”

What this means for a contractor is they can come to the committee with a housing plan and working with a licensed realtor to ask for an application for a loan anywhere in Ellis County. The contractor must follow specific guidelines that will fall in the criteria as to what the committee sees as affordable housing. If the applicant is approved they will be loaned the money to purchase and renovate a home. The loan will be done with no money down.

As far as affordable housing, White said the $120,000 to $165,000 range was what people were having problems finding. The renovations that are approved will be for a minimum of $10,000, and the house must not be sold for more than $145,000. The home must be done for owner-occupants. Houses must be turned in a six-month period. White said the hope is the program will help developers flip six to 12 homes in a year, and there will be a renovation budget for the homes.

“We want to make sure we’re not going to be working on projects where folks are going to end up over budget all the time,” White said. “We’ll be focusing on contractors who know what they’re doing when they come in, and evaluating a home is the key.”

The program’s loan committee will be made of seven people with ties to residential housing, construction or real estate in Ellis County. White said there are five commitments to the board at this time.