EPHRAIM — The City of Ephraim Housing Authority recently asked the Ephraim City Council to work with them on a new subdivision that the Housing Authority would like to develop on land in the city.

The housing office builds houses and sells them to qualified families. Traditionally, homes have been 1,450 square feet on the main level with an unfinished basement.

In order to help families access housing at a lower cost, the Régie du Logement pays the city’s impact fee as well as sewer and water connection fees. The housing authority then puts a second lien on the house at zero percent interest for the amount of the impact and connection fee. The owner is required to repay the money in order to remove the lien.

“The current housing market has made it difficult to build single-family units, as we have done in the past, and stay within the affordable parameters set by the USDA Office of Rural Development,” said Lorna Olson , director of the Ephraim Housing Authority, to the city council. at a meeting on May 18.

“According to Sanpete County guidelines, a family of four can earn up to $78,300, which would qualify them for a home worth about $320,000. The problem is that this amount does not buy a habitable house in Ephraim at today’s prices, even a small one.

The housing authority has offered to buy property owned by the city of Ephraim in the northwestern part of the city. One of the options the authority is considering is to coordinate with the Six County Government Association and build homes in the proposed development using the Six County Mutual Aid Scheme. This is where four to eight families work together to build their homes.

This program would significantly reduce construction costs and give families equity when walking through the door of homes. The program asks each participating family to commit to working 30 hours a week on the houses. And it takes about a year to complete the project. Interested families can contact the Ephraim Housing Authority for more information.

“We just found out that we can appeal that maximum home value amount to the state level, asking for an increased amount, and they will consider it if they get enough appeals from a county,” Olson said.

Councilwoman Margie Anderson, the council’s liaison to the housing authority, said the state will offer a grant program to help with affordable housing, with one-time funding available beginning in 2023.

“The real problem is that we don’t have land, so we haven’t been able to provide our services to Ephraim families in need over the last year,” Olson said. “If we could offer a tiny house with an unfinished basement, then families could add equity to their property, and that’s better than just paying rent. Another option is to build townhouses or duplexes if the cost of construction does not drop.

Mayor John Scott has asked the housing authority to provide more details, including how much land they want to buy and a basic development plan. The more detailed proposal will be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting.