Local program finds ways to improve low income housing options

Posted on 7 February 2018 at 5:20pm
Story image: Local program finds ways to improve low income housing options

COLUMBIA - A group devoted to eliminating poverty is focusing on improving low income housing.

Central Missouri Community Action said it hopes to educate more families about low income housing and convince more landlords to make their properties available for low income residents.

Darin Preis, the executive director of the group, said the agency will push more resources toward families in the program over the long term. 

The program will send invitations to landlords to give them more information, with hopes they will join.

"We really need lots more landlords," Preis said. 

The program will provide a subsidy for landlords and vouchers for potential residents.

He said its a win win, landlords will have guarantee income and low income people will have housing assistance.

Preis said many landlords have a misconception of low-income residents.

"There's a perception out there that low income renters are going to tear up their properties and we really work with them through our housing choice voucher program to make sure that the tenants are keeping up with their end of the deal too."

The program provides rental assistance to people who qualify in Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage counties.

Preis said low-income housing is needed more than ever.

"Anyone who is spending more than 30 percent of their household income on housing is considered housing poor," Preis said.

The program lost substantial funding for this year because a grant was not renewed.

Gov. Eric Greitens and the Housing Development Commission decided to cut state funding for low-income housing development in late 2017.

They decided against giving $140 million to continue funding Missouri's Low Income Housing Tax credit program.

With fewer houses being built, rental options become more important.

One low-income housing resident said she would be on the street if it wasn't for low-income housing

"Us people wouldn't know what to do, especially when you are a single parent, you wouldn't want to be out on the street," Sheire Wilson said.

Central Missouri Community Action is also working to help residents by teaching them self-sufficiency skills.

"What we want to do is create more opportunities for them to move out of poverty, to increase their wages and decrease the amount of the subsidy that we have through that program so that we can make it available to other families," Preis said.

He said the group will help residents participant in soft-skills training and employment opportunities and leadership skills.

"All of the types of things that we know employers need so that we can help them increase their wages or help them reach what ever their goals are," he said.