MU Students Recommend Policies on Columbia Affordable Housing

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COLUMBIA - Three MU students presented their survey findings Thursday and gave recommendations to the city on Columbia's safe and affordable housing.

Students from the Truman School of Public Affairs surveyed 133 individuals in Columbia since January. They targeted people with lower levels of employment and income, and higher levels of veterans status.

"I think it will be a great benefit for Columbia to mix those income levels in one housing development. I hope to see that in the future," said Scout Merry, who works for the disability services for independent living.

The survey responses show that the major barriers to affordable housing are: jobs in Columbia do not pay enough, there's not enough affordable housing in Columbia, and the conditions of affordable housing are poor.

Based on that, the students gave these recommendations to the city:

  • planning location-efficient housing development including nearby transportation, job sectors, downtown centers and other amenities
  • extending the time period of paying silent second mortgage
  • educating people on budgeting and home maintenance

"Looking at our silent second mortgages on our homeownership assistance program, that's something we currently do, but only on maybe one or two houses per year. That's something we can look at potentially, maybe expanding and reevaluating how we do that on our part of the program," said Randy Cole, the city's coordinator for Community Development Block Grants.