Ontario ready to kick off housing incentive program

By Pat Caldwell
The Enterprise
ONTARIO – Ontario officials want you to build your next home in their town.
They’re willing to give you money to do it.
The Ontario City Council recently approved a new Home Incentive Program to provide a $10,000 cash incentive for a new owner-occupied home.
Applications for the new program are available at city hall, said City Manager Adam Brown.
Brown said the program works like this: The home owner or the builder fill out an application before the house is constructed.
The owner has two years to get the house built. The house must be 1,600 square feet or larger and owner-occupied.
Also, the applicant must not be in any other kind of loan assistance program.
The application is reviewed by the city’s business loan fund committee who then makes a recommendation to the city council. Then the money is released when officials approve the house for use. The new house must also be within city limits or in an area that can be annexed by the city.
The money comes from the city’s business loan fund. The money, Brown said, is paid back into the business loan fund over several years from city property taxes assessed on new homes.
“We are excited about it. It creates some upward mobility for younger professionals,” said Brown.
City Councilor Dan Capron said he supports the new program.
“It just made sense to try to help bring more people into town,” said Capron.
Mayor Ron Verini agreed with Capron.
“We’ve had already had indications of interest, even before we finalized the incentive. It looks like this will generate housing in our community which is really needed,” said Verini.
Councilor Norm Crume said there is a shortage of housing in Ontario.
“But I don’t know if there is a demand yet,” said Crume. Based on statistics provided by Dan Cummings, the city’s community development director, Ontario has not seen a lot of housing construction recently compared to either Payette or Fruitland.
In 2017, Ontario issued four home building permits, including one for a manufactured home, while Fruitland issued 46 and Payette issued 27.
Brown said building costs on the Idaho side of the Snake River are lower.
He said state regulations play a pivotal role according to building contractors he spoke with in Idaho.
One difference is the number of specialized sub-contractors allowed to work on a home in Oregon compared to Idaho.
Brown said Oregon limits how many apprentices can work under a master electrician.
“In Idaho, a master electrician might be able to have eight under his name. In Oregon, he can have only four,” said Brown. The cost of building permits in Idaho is cheaper than Oregon, too.
A building permit for a 2,000-square-foot home with an assessed value of $200,000 in Ontario is $3,302. In Fruitland, the same permit costs $1,606.