Sandhills Townhomes holds ribbon cuttingAugust 2, 2023
By Laura Vroman, Editor, Valentine Midland News; Reprinted with permission
Sandhills Townhomes began in the fall of 2020 as a collaboration between students from the architecture studio at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, led by Steve Hardy, the City of Valentine, and Hoppe Development who is a real estate development firm.
The result of this collaboration became the Sandhills Townhomes: an affordable rental project applying innovative financing and design. Hoppe Development took the concepts of affordability created by the students and applied for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) thru the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority.
Hoppe Development was able to share with the students their experience of design constraints that come with affordable housing. LIHTC projects particularly have certain design standards, green standards, and required amenities to meet the threshold of a competitive and successful application.
Ultimately, the plans used for Hoppe Development’s application to NIFA adopted the student’s suggestion of utilizing existing infill lots for rowhome style, medium density housing, with priority given to individual entrances and yards to maintain some familiarity for the town.
Sandhills Townhomes feature 15 three-bedroom units with two floorplan styles: single story living, and a two-story design, addressing the need the students identified for different housing types to meet the community’s demographics. Each unit boasts an attached garage, appliances including washer and dryer installed in each unit, ample storage and a garden plot in each yard.
These units will be restricted to households who are at 60 percent or below of area median income at initial move-in, and rents will also be restricted consistent with 60 percent limits. Additionally, Hoppe Development has partnered with Northwest Nebraska Community Action Partnership to target a portion of the units specifically to households at risk of homelessness and to provide supportive services to all tenants of this development.
In addition to working with the students, the community also supported the Sandhills Townhome project by assembling a locally-sourced financing collaboration between Heartland [Energy] and Sandhills State Bank, with Midwest Housing Equity Group providing tax equity.
“The City has been working to increase the number of affordable housing units in town for over five years. This privately-owned project is the culmination of that work and represent 15 of the 65 housing units completed in Valentine in the last year. This work to improve the availability, affordability, and quality of housing in Valentine will continue with the development of a new neighborhood east of the High School and additional infill single family spec homes.
“Valentine is a great community with an outstanding quality of life – improving the availability of housing will only make Valentine stronger,” said City Council President Kyle Arganbright.