As Grand Island continues to grow, the need for affordable housing becomes essential to accommodate new and existing people in the community.

One company looking to help address the need for affordable housing is Ascentia Real Estate Investment Co., which owns and manages both West Park Plaza and Kingswood Estate in Grand Island.

Ken Sanders is the community manager for both West Park and Kingswood. He said there will be an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 219 Melody Lane (West Park Plaza) in Grand Island.

The open house is to show the public the new rentals the company has acquired to provide more affordable housing.

Sanders said Ascentia added 20 rentals last year and 10 so far this year at West Park.

“We want to showcase the homes and the properties,” Sanders said.

Aimee White, district manager for Ascentia, said the company’s mission is to serve the “working families of America by proving the best housing value in the country.”

Ascentia has properties in seven different states, including mobile home rental properties in Grand Island and Lincoln.

“The American dream is built on housing, and opportunity starts at home,” White said. “We are passionate about providing the highest-caliber homes and communities at a price that most people can afford. West Park is an Ascentia community and we are proud to part of the Grand Island community.”

Sanders said affordable housing is “something that will fit into someone’s budget giving them the best value possible.”

The properties are unfurnished but include appliances, and clients sign a one-year lease.

The program to provide affordable housing at both West Park and Kingswood has been a success, Sanders said.

“Over the past five years, we have brought in 105 homes,” Sanders said. “It has been a very successful program.”

Each property is a shared community maintained by Sanders and his staff.

“We keep the community looking good so the people living in the community can take pride in where they live,” he said.

With affordable housing a concern for many couples just starting out and raising a family, Sanders said the Ascentia properties are an affordable alternative.

“With our new homes, the layout is perfect for a family,” Sanders said.

For example, a new three-bedroom and two-bath home rents for $800 per month, he said. The homes have vaulted ceilings, ceiling fans, a utility room, dining area, all new appliances, a master suite with a walk-in closet, and a bathroom with a garden tub and a separate walk-in shower.

“That is what we will be offering on Aug. 19,” Sanders said.

He said the advantage of living in the two Ascentia communities is “you don’t have to share walls, ceilings, and floors with anybody.”

“Each of the homes also has a 10-by-10 deck so there is plenty of room for outdoor entertainment,” Sanders said.

Ascentia advertises itself as “deeply rooted in family tradition, courage, integrity and strong work ethics.”

The company was founded by BM Vukovich, who emigrated from Yugoslavia to Peru during World War II to escape the Communist takeover. To provide an opportunity for a better life for his family, Vukovich migrated to America in 1968 and began working as a real estate broker in Colorado. He began investing in some of the real estate transactions he closed by contributing the commission he made as equity in the properties.

Vukovich formed Colorado Real Estate and Investment Co. (CREICO) in 1974. In 1980, he had built up the investment base to over 1,200 manufactured home spaces and recruited his sons, Boris and Mirko, to help him run the properties. With the help of his sons, the Vukovich team took CREICO from those 1,200 spaces in Colorado and Wyoming to nearly 7,000 spaces and 1,400 rental homes across seven states in the Rocky Mountain west, North Carolina and Texas.

Shortly after the turn of the century, the manufactured housing sector of the multi-family real estate market crashed. CREICO had the majority of its holdings in manufactured housing communities and battled through a difficult period that contained the failing of a number of consumer financing sources and the closing of the majority of manufactured home dealers and factories around the country.

In response to this adversity, CREICO created an in-house finance company, Pelican Finance, to provide a way to increase occupancy to its manufactured home portfolio. Today, Pelican has grown to nearly $40 million in asset value, mostly in rental homes, and produces over $7 million in revenues annually.

In 2011, CREICO reinvented itself and changed its name to Ascentia Real Estate Investment Co. to “provide the best housing value that the working people of America can proudly call home.”

Sanders said he encourages people looking for alternative affordable housing opportunities to check out the Ascentia communities in Grand Island.

“The trailer park mentality of the ’70s is not what we offer,” he said.

For more information about housing opportunities at West Park Plaza, call (308) 382-5999. Office hours are 8 a.m. 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Also, visit www.ascentia.us to learn more about the company.

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