Task force sees progress in Columbia's housing situation

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COLUMBIA -  There are currently around 12,700 rental households classified as cost-burdened in Columbia, meaning tenants are paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs, according to Randy Cole.

Cole is one of the leading members on the Fair Housing task force, and the supervisor of housing programs for the city.

The creation of the task force was step one for the city. Now, Cole says they have an opportunity to get back to the drawing board to improve options for middle to low income people.

"We've had discussions and viewpoints from all ends of the spectrum," Cole said. "We need to think about where we've come since five to ten years ago."

Construction of the Lynn Street Cottages and renovations to the Bryant Walkway apartments are early projects that work into the plans between the task force and the city.

Federal subsidies from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development help make the projects happen.

"We can now build six, or ten, or twelve new affordable houses every year," fourth ward city council member Ian Thomas said.

Thomas added that the goal of projects like the Columbia land trust is to eventually get tenants to be able to move into market-level housing.

"People are going to do what they need to do to find quality, affordable housing," Cole said. "We don't want to get into a situation where we're just warehousing people."