Mission re-ups participation in federal housing assistance program

City Administrator Laura Smith told the Mission council about the city’s past commitment to participate in a federal housing accessibility program. File photo

The city of Mission has reaffirmed its participation in a federal program that provides housing assistance to low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

After Gilmore & Bell recently contacted the city of Mission requesting copies of the city’s participation in the Kansas Statewide Housing Assistance Program, city leaders agreed to continue participating, which allows homebuyers in Mission to access the program. Following a search of city records, staff found a resolution that city leaders passed on Sept. 9, 1998, but could not locate the cooperation agreement.

Because city leaders had originally desired for Mission to participate, and because the city has engaged in conversations about housing accessibility, city staff recommending reaffirming Mission’s participation in the federal program.

The council on July 17 unanimously voted to reaffirm Mission’s participation in the Kansas Statewide Housing Assistance Program. There was no public comment or additional council discussion.

Records of Mission’s participation were unable to be located after the firm previously responsible for maintaining the records of the program had closed its doors. Gilmore & Bell determined that the best way to ensure proper documentation was to ask any participating city to reaffirm its participation and create new documentation.

Nearly all of the cities in Johnson County participate, and Prairie Village and Olathe have also been asked to reaffirm their participation in the program, said City Administrator Laura Smith.

The federal program was enacted jointly in the mid-1990s by Sedgwick and Shawnee counties to provide subsidized mortgage loans to low- and moderate-income homebuyers. This “locally sponsored” approach was selected because Kansas statutes did not — and still do not — allow for the issuance of single-family mortgage bonds by a state agency, Mission city staff noted.

This was a topic that one of the panelists at the UCS panel on accessible housing talked about, that being a real limitation at the state level,” Smith said at a finance and administration meeting earlier this month. “So it’s interesting that this all sort of popped up in the same timeframe.”

The primary benefits of the program are reduced interest rate mortgages and/or down payment assistance for low- and moderate-income homebuyers who meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Eligibility to participate in the program is based on federal rules.

Program subsidies have been created by, among other things, the issuance of single family mortgage bonds by the program, according to a Mission city memo. In the past four years, the program has originated eight mortgages in the city, averaging about $153,000, with a total value of about $1.2 million.

In Johnson County, the maximum income limit is $112,000. Homebuyers with less than $64,000 annual income are also eligible for grants of either $1,500 or $2,500, depending on their income. A variety of loans, including FHA, VA, FHLMC, USA and Conventional, are all eligible as long as homebuyers meet the credit requirements for each type.

There are no costs or administrative responsibilities for Mission to participate.