Cut of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits meeting more opposition

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COLUMBIA – Residents and business owners voiced their opposition to the state's cuts of Low-Income Housing Tax credits, which happened in November.

The Missouri Housing and Development Commission held a public hearing on their Qualified Allocation Plan LIHTCs Friday at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia.

The commission decided to eliminate the low-income tax credits in November. This decision prevents the state from issuing tax credits used to help develop affordable housing.

Michael Bodine is an electrical contractor for low-income housing. He said this cut could cause many people who build affordable homes or work on them for a living to lose their jobs.

He says there will not be any incentives, and it would be too difficult to compete with bigger entities.

“We are already looking for other things to do. It’s kind of sad to see something that’s worked a long time and not be available to us,” Bodine said.

The MHDC said the program wastes Missourians' tax money and doesn’t produce results.

Pam Hildebrand is a disabled senior who lives in affordable housing. She said this decision puts her at risk of ending up on the streets.

“There are so many people that are ending up in the situation I’m in that those people are not going to have a home. If for some reason something happens and I lose that apartment and they fill it, I will be without a home because they aren’t building anymore, and there is such a need,” Hildebrand said.  

The CEO of Columbia Housing Authority, Phil Steinhaus, said they are very disappointed with the commission’s decision. He said CHA has one project in the works that requires the help of tax credits. Without these credits, it will be much harder to finish.

“It removes some of the incentives for the investors that invest in the project so that is how the program works. With the tax credits we attract investors to our project,” Steinhaus said.

One retired resident, Chris Kelly, said the solution should not be just to cut programs.

“Greitens’ cure for that is to destroy the programs. I think that is short-sided. Just regulate it better,” said Kelly. “He controls those agencies, don’t quit building housing for people because somebody in the private sector is being successful. If you want to regulate that, regulate it better.”

KOMU 8 reached out to the Appointed Commissioner, Jason Cowell. He pointed to comments from an op-ed article he wrote to be published Saturday.

The piece said, in part: “Would you pay 1 dollar for only 42 cents worth of bread? Or milk? No, of course not. However, that is exactly what was occurring with your state tax dollars authorized for low income and senior housing.”

Crowell said the program represents a significant liability to the state with approximately $1.3 billion in credits outstanding and obligated as of June 2016.

According to Crowell, 31 other states have no LIHTC program.