Lenexa has expanded its home revitalization grant program to include more aging neighborhoods citywide.
The revamped program, recently renamed the Exterior Grant Program, now allows homeowners to apply for up to 50% reimbursement on exterior improvements, so long as their homes were built in or before 1987, and appraised by the county at $315,000 or less.
The program is designed to help owners of older homes to reinvest in their properties.
Angel Whitaker, community standards supervisor for the city of Lenexa, said the city’s neighborhood revitalization grant program was established about 15 years ago and has been underutilized.
City staff recognized the community has changed substantially in terms of residential growth, particularly west of I-435.
“As the community has grown and changed over the last decade, we knew it was time to revitalize the program and make some changes so that it could be better utilized within the community,” she said.
The grant program is paid for through the city’s general fund. About $40,000 is available this year.
“We want to keep our neighborhoods attractive for people to continue living there or for people to consider moving into them,” Whitaker added. “I think they’re very excited to see how quickly the money is spent.”
The revamped program rolls out in July, but homeowners can start looking at potential projects for their homes now.
Applications are available online. Interested homeowners can download an application and find out more information here.
What’s new with the program
New eligibility standards: Previously, this program was only available for residents within certain older neighborhood districts concentrated near I-35.
Now, it’s available to more property owners, including owner-occupied and renter homes.
These numbers will be changed every year, but for this year, to qualify or be considered, a home’s county appraisal has to be $315,500 or less and the home must be built in 1987 or prior.
Reimbursement now capped at 50%, up from 15%: For example, if a homeowner invests $10,000 in exterior improvements, the owner could be reimbursed up to $5,000.
Longer list of items that qualify for reimbursement: Previously, the list excluded such exterior improvements as fences, removal or repair of pools and solar panels, for example.
Whitaker said city staff has noted items they’d want to add if the program changed.
“We feel like those things make a huge impact on the neighborhood, and a huge impact on the livability of the home,” Whitaker said. “So if we can incentivize people to replace an entire driveway or to replace their entire fence, it’s a win for everybody.”
How it works
The application period opens once a year.
This year, it will be open July 6 through Aug. 6. Homeowners can submit bids for the work they intend to have done.
City staff will begin reviewing applications after Aug. 6 and then award grant funding to homeowners based on the number of applicants the city receives.
If there are more applicants than available funds, then funds will be awarded based on the age and condition of each property. The older a home is and the more code violations it has, the higher priority it will have.
“We don’t know how quickly the money will go,” Whitaker said. “We’ve talked to some neighboring jurisdictions that run out of money every year, so we’re very optimistic because that would be ideal, right? Spend all the money in the community, that’s what we would love to do.”
No one is guaranteed funding, but once the application period closes, the city will assess applications and then send pre-approval letters to homeowners who will then have a time period (set out in the letter) to get the work done.
Homeowners must provide documentation to the city of that work to access reimbursement.