City seeks participation in upcoming affordable housing symposium

1 year 2 months 1 week ago November 07, 2015 Nov 7, 2015 Saturday, November 07 2015 Saturday, November 07, 2015 6:41:00 PM CST in News
By: Chris Gothner, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is seeking resident input in an upcoming affordable housing symposium in December.

The symposium will be held on Dec. 3 and 4 and the city plans to focus on "current and future affordable housing needs in Columbia as well as identify innovative approaches to addressing affordable housing."

Randy Cole, the city's housing programs supervisor, said city officials have been planning the symposium since August. It will feature guest speakers from both the public and private sector, as well as officials from Missoula, Mont. and Boulder, Colo. 

"We're trying to get all the different angles, we've been in contact with banks, the chamber and the private sector side of it," Cole said. "We want to get a broad-brush perspective of what the issue is."

Cole said both cities have successfully used both the public and private sectors to help tackle their affordable housing issues. He said Columbia's massive growth over the years is behind housing cost issues.

"We've seen a lot of growth in Columbia, which has been great for our local economy, but housing growth has been low," Cole said.

Cole said Columbia's affordable housing problems are not just a public housing matter; both prospective home buyers and renters are also affected. He said interest rates could be going up soon, which could cause trouble for low-to-moderate-income home buyers.

Cole said one of the biggest needs is a high cost burden to renters. He said around 50 percent of Columbia renters pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. 

Cole also said the city hopes to bring its workforce closer to home. He said some workers commute to Columbia from Boonville, Sturgeon and Centralia not because they want a smaller-town atmosphere, but because housing costs in Columbia are too expensive. 

Residents can register for the symposium on the city's website

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