DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Dodge City’s housing assessment studies show that in the next five years, the community will lack nearly 1600 homes for families in need. But there is hope on the horizon as a younger generation is coming together to build a stronger future.

The Community Housing Association of Dodge City (CHAD) is a nonprofit organization focused on housing needs in and around the city. Through their Abandon Housing Program, the city has partnered with Dodge City Community College and is bringing in reinforcements from the Building Construction Technology class to construct and rehab vacant properties.

“We’re creating additional moderate-income housing, we’re training our future workforce, and everything we do is done in an existing older neighborhood, so we’re cleaning up the neighborhood as well,” said Mollea Wainscott, Assistant Director of Dodge City/Ford County Economic Development.

“This partnership and these young students are learning a skill they can use forever,” said Harold Nolte, President of Dodge City Community College.

Students are hands-on in the program, learning from local professionals on how to build houses from the ground up. “Everything is under the supervision of a licensed contractor,” said Pat Shiew, Construction Technology Instructor. “They’re involved with everything, drywall, finishing, painting, doors, trim, cabinets, the whole bit.”

The current house will be a single-family home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a one-car garage. “Most of the time, these are first-time homeowners. People who have never had the chance to own a home before. So they’re able to get a beautiful brand new, high-quality house, that fits in their income range,” said Wainscott.

But it’s more than a class, it’s creating homes for a community in need and molding a future workforce. “I think it’s a great thing to do now. It’s setting us up for success in the future,” said Ty Bacon, Construction Technology Student. “I love doing this stuff. I’ve always been a very hands-on person. I really enjoy it.”

“It’s exciting to see the ones [students] that have already graduated, to see the companies they’re involved with, some of them have started their own companies,” said Shiew. “Seeing people have success, to watch these guys and gals go in and make money and change their lives, that’s the real reward for me.”

This year’s house will be the fifth project constructed by the class. In the past, three houses and two duplexes were built, creating a total of seven homes. “It’s always something to feel good about when it’s all said and done. I mean, we can drive by and be like, ‘Hey, we built that,’” said Bacon.

After completion, the house will be move-in ready and listed on the market. “To see a moderate-income family be able to afford a house like this is outstanding and for the neighbors in the community to see their local neighborhood improve is another reason why we do what we do,” said Shiew.

“Our homes are really growing and it’s a good thing for our low economic people to be able to buy this house,” said Nolte.

Dodge City has also created numerous initiatives all in the hopes of reviving local neighborhoods. Paint Dodge! and the Community Home Renovation Program are focused on helping people repaint and upgrade their homes.

City officials say the housing developments are vital for the growth and future of the community. “I hope we can continue this partnership with the community college, continue doing infills and blighted neighborhoods, cleaning up neighborhoods, and creating more moderate-income housing,” Wainscott said.