Housing Commission OKs incentive for beautification in target neighborhood

Apr 27, 2016

The Hutchinson Housing Commission approved an incentive program for residents in the southwest part of town to beautify their front yards and porches.

The first 30 residents of the area to complete approved improvements would receive a $100 gift certificate or gift card. The proposal came from a committee of neighborhood residents formed through the Hutchinson Healthy Neighborhood initiative.

The initiative had meetings last August with residents to discuss priorities for their neighborhood, and aesthetics that they could take pride in were high on the list, said Jeff Thomson of Interfaith Housing Services. From those meetings, the committee that proposed the incentive was created.

That committee wanted a way to get funds that were budgeted for the neighborhood initiative into the neighborhood and to spread word about the effort.

Housing Commission member Lisa Gleason said the goal is for the incentive program to be a spark for more improvements.

Projects don’t have to be huge undertakings to qualify for the incentive, Gleason and Thomson said after the meeting. It could be repairing or repainting a porch or railing or planting shrubs or flowers, for example.

To receive the incentive, a resident needs to include before and after photos with an application and attend a neighborhood meeting. Applications will be reviewed by a committee including Thomson, a resident and a City Council member.

Brush Up Hutch

Thomson said the Brush Up Hutch program could provide reimbursement for paint used in the beautification projects.

Brush Up Hutch reimburses qualifying residents for up to $300 worth of paint, but they must receive approval before beginning work. Housing Coordinator Amy Denker said residents should turn in an application with the city’s Planning Department.

After they get approval, they should keep receipts for paint and turn those in when the project is completed for reimbursement.

Brush Up Hutch requires the applicant own and live in the home, own no other home and meet income qualifications. However, the Community Improvement Commission in March adopted an alternative to income qualifications, but only in the neighborhood that will receive the beautification incentives. In that neighborhood, residents can either qualify by income or by the home’s value as appraised by Reno County.

Rural housing incentive district

The Housing Commission approved a resolution to make phase two of Ashton Estates subdivision, owned by Jim Strawn, eligible to form a rural housing incentive district. The subdivision wasn’t included in a resolution passed last fall because Strawn hadn’t requested its inclusion, although another of his developments was included, Denker said.

Rural housing incentive districts are an alternative to special assessments for financing streets, sewers and other improvements when developing bare ground for housing. Property taxes on the difference between the value of the ground and the value of the developed property are diverted to pay for those improvements.

The resolution approved Wednesday also needs City Council approval, and it only makes the subdivision eligible to apply to create a district. Actually forming a district would take more work.