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Local

Knock knock! It’s Fair Housing Month

City recognizes housing efforts for month of April

Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, surrounded by realtors, landlords and city staff, finishes signing a proclamation Wednesday morning declaring April as Fair Housing Month. The holiday coincides with the 51-year anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, surrounded by realtors, landlords and city staff, finishes signing a proclamation Wednesday morning declaring April as Fair Housing Month. The holiday coincides with the 51-year anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

To commemorate the 51-year anniversary of a federal law protecting home buyers and renters from landlord discrimination, Newton Mayor Mike Hansen declared April as Fair Housing Month.

Officially signing the proclamation Wednesday morning inside the council chambers, Hansen penned his signature while surrounded by local landlords and realtors, recognizing the holiday as a celebration of the Fair Housing Act. Hansen said Fair Housing Month is acknowledged annually by the city.

“It recognizes the great work of the realtors throughout the nation, specifically Newton when we’ve made an emphasis about that with our housing initiative back in 2012 when that was started,” Hansen told the Newton Daily News Wednesday.

The initiative, facilitated through the Newton Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), offers incentives to home buyers and builders, real estate developers and property owners to expand the quantity and the quality of the town’s available housing inventory, according to the City of Newton website.

“For housing to continue to evolve, you need to have various types of housing for those that are looking for very specific types of housing,” Hansen added. “With our housing initiative, we have taken that approach and it has paid off tremendously.”

Home buyers opting into the initiative will receive $10,000 cash and a value package upon building or purchasing a new, single-family spec or custom home valued $160,000 or higher.

Builders are granted half-price permit and inspection fees as well; the city will cover loan interest of up to $10,000 for up to one year from the moment a building permit is issued. These new homes must also come equipped with a radon abatement system to be eligible for Newton’s housing initiative.

The purpose of the initiative is to encourage further housing growth. In 2011, no new permits had been issued for single-family housing in Newton. NHDC Housing Director Bruce Showalter said the town has since made a concentrated effort to steadily grow its housing inventory and laid down the foundation for future expansions.

From 2016 to 2018, Newton issued about 51 new housing permits.

Showalter noted the completion of both the Hotel Maytag Apartments & Event Center and Lion Development Group apartment complex will provide additional and diverse housing units for Newton. Now entering spring, Showalter said NHDC is still going strong and determined to maintain its momentum.

An open house and tour event planned May 18 will showcase six home builders and 11 new construction houses in town.

Fair Housing Month, he added, is undoubtedly important to NHDC and its efforts to grow the community. 

“We work with housing and we want to make sure that everyone gets the same treatment and rights,” Showalter said. “We want to make sure that not only the realtors but the bankers and lenders and everybody are doing the things that they should do to make things fair for everybody.”

Hansen said the work of those people seeking out new home buyers is not passing by unnoticed.

“We appreciate and honor all of the work of our great realtors in Newton and in Jasper County and, for that matter, around the metro area to find those that wish to locate and purchase a home here in Newton and raise their families here,” he said. 

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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