Council OKs development study plan

By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

Portales City councilors approved a resolution supporting a feasibility study to be done by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority which will provide information about the community’s housing needs, possibly leading to a residential housing project.

The resolution, authorizes the city to apply for the Workforce Development Program through the NMMFA. That application is due Aug. 11. As part of the program, the city commits to paying one-third of the costs to do the study, which City Manager Debi Lee said will probably be between $20,000 and $30,000.

“The feasibility study will analyze the work force that’s currently in the community, what the income levels are what the unemployment rate is, what the housing needs are and what the future trends are for the next five years,” Lee said.

She added that the city’s participation in any future project is providing the land and paying for the one-third of the cost of the study. The land cost could be reimbursed as lots are sold.

Director of Community Development Jeremy Sturm said once the feasibility study is done, it will show how many houses the community needs and how many should be built.

He said there are many stipulations as far as what the set prices will be and what the houses can be sold for which is all defined in the program though the NMMFA.

“The intent is to provide housing between $80,000 and $150,000 price range for a house for people like young professionals,” Sturm said. “A lot of what is available in that price range now is snapped up almost immediately.”

Sturm also said the housing will be a good recruiting tool to bring people into the area.

In other news, as part of the application process for the Community Development Block Grant, which is due in January, the city must hold more community hearings such as the one held Monday night.

Lee said one issue brought up at that meeting was the request for street improvement, such as paving, curb and gutter improvements, for the area behind Pizza Hut.

The council will conduct a door-to-door survey asking residents in the area to provide household information such as whether or not there is a female head of household and what their income levels are. Should 51 percent of the people living in the area meet the criteria for low and moderate income, the city can qualify that area for application to get $500,000 for improvements, which those residents won’t have to pay for.

“The city has to match it with a 10 percent cash match but citizens themselves don’t have to pay for any improvements at all,” Lee said.