Housing Commission votes against state tax credits for affordable housing

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Housing Authority has to find some new ways to pay for low income housing properties.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission approved a revision to a key plan that sets the state's eligibility priorities and criteria for giving tax credits to housing properties.

The revision means developers will not receive state low-income housing tax credits.

Commissioner Jason Crowell said the low-income housing tax credit program is "very inefficient."

"Forty-two cents of every dollar actually goes to housing and I've said over and over again, only politicians spending other peoples money think it's a good deal to spend a dollar for only 42 cents worth of bread," he said.

Crowell said the revision sends a message to the general assembly to pass reforms for the tax credit program.

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson opposed the commission's decision saying the revision shouldn't be approved without knowing how it will affect the community.

"We have no facts to know what it's gonna do for law enforcement on the local levels, to the hospitals, to our churches, because one thing I do know, if we do nothing, if we're gonna sit here and pat all these people on the head and say hey everything's gonna be okay." he said.

Parson said a lot of underrepresented people will be affected.

"It's homeless veterans, it's disabled people it's low income people," he said.

The Columbia Housing Authority develops low income housing units. CEO Phil Steinhaus said 50 apartments need to be renovated for its current plan.

Without the state credit, he said, the Authority will be about $2 million short. That would mean a third less affordable housing units being built statewide.

Providence Walkway is just one of the areas Steinhaus hoped to renovate. He says the apartments, built in the 1960s, need new plumbing, flooring, kitchen, roofs, heating and more.

One resident said she is upset about the commission's decision.

Ebony Williams has lived in the area for 4 years, ever since her mother lost her job. 

"It feels wrong to me, I mean, like, I'm surprised there's like nobody else to say something about this."

To Williams, areas like her's are needed in the community. 

"You got the rich people, the poor people, the homeless people. I mean, like, everyone needs somewhere to stay."

Without the state tax credits, the Columbia Housing Authority needs to change plans. Steinhaus said it has three options: Ask for more federal tax credits, cut things out of projects, or find alternative funding.

Steinhaus said he was "very disappointed" by the decision.

"There is an incredible need for affordable housing in Columbia and Missouri. It went against the state legislature appropriated for low income housing tax credits," he said.

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