State's cut of low-income housing tax credits meets opposition

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Housing Development Commission held a meeting with Missouri citizens to share the final decisions for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. 

At the meeting, the commission decided to eliminate the low-income housing tax credits for the state of Missouri. Greitens' decision will prevent the state from issuing tax credits used to to develop affordable housing.

Columbia resident Max Lewis said he felt the meeting went horribly and he disagreed with Greitens' plan. 

"What these tax credits do is they allow organizations that see a need for low-income, accessible and affordable housing for individuals like myself, with disabilities," Lewis said. 

Lewis is paralyzed from his chest down because of a spinal cord injury. He said this program helps Missouri citizens. 

"The need is absolute, it's necessary, it's overwhelming," Lewis said. "I can't open the door by myself, I can't move, I can't walk, I can't get my keys out. I can't feed myself."

In a statement, Greitens said he is removing state funds from the program because it wastes Missourians' tax money, and doesn't produce results.

"For every dollar that went into the program, only about 42 to 55 cents actually went to the building housing for poor people. That's a bad deal any way you cut it," the governor's statement said.  

The Columbia Housing Authority and Boone County Family Resources are two organizations in Columbia that receive the low-income housing tax credits to build affordable housing for Columbia residents.

CEO of CHA Phil Steinhaus said Greitens' actions will affect Missouri citizens in a negative way. He said Greitens' plans are hurting Missourians, not helping. 

"It puts a lot of low-income families, seniors and veterans all at risk," Steinhaus said. "Without low-income housing tax credits, less affordable housing will be built."

Another citizen, Karen Dilworth, is a construction worker who now helps people who benefit from the program. She said she received affordable housing several years back, and it helped her buy her own home. 

"That program has helped me a whole lot," Dilworth said. "It's sad because everyone needs a nice place to stay."

She said people like Lewis need this program more than anyone.

"Disabled people need somewhere where they can be able to do things for themselves," Dilworth said.  

In Greitens' statement he said he is removing the low-income tax credits to help everyone in Missouri. He stated:

"We have to take care of people in Missouri. We have to watch our dollars, and spend them wisely. We're here to work with people accross Missouri, on both sides of the aisle, to do what works." 

Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) voiced her concerns at the meeting. She said the decisions that the Missouri Housing Development Commission are making are appalling. 

"When you have veterans, the disabled and seniors who are looking for quality and affordable housing, and to have a hand few of people to totally do away with low-income housing tax credits from the state level," Nasheed said. "It's unacceptable."

Greitens' statement said the commission had to make this decision to save Missouri taxpayers money:

"We took action. We zeroed out this failing program, and saved tens of millions of dollars."

Lewis said Greitens didn't consider underserved people and communities. 

"It's a sad day for so many people with disabilities," Lewis said. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to Appointed Commissioner Jason Crowell at the meeting and he said he couldn't speak because of a family emergency.