Columbia Housing Authority looks for alternative properties to develop

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 11:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Although a plan to build affordable townhouses on the Deluxe Inn property on Business Loop 70 East has fallen through, New Horizons Community Support Services was continuing to negotiate with other property owners Friday to secure land for a similar project. This organization is partnering with the Columbia Housing Authority to develop new affordable housing to include community support services for persons with disabilities.

The authority's board of commissioners met in closed session on Tuesday to review several parcels of land that might be candidates for additional affordable housing, authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said. The agency had hoped to create a partnership with New Horizons Community Support Services to develop 52 townhouses on the Business Loop land, but that deal did not come to fruition.

New Horizons and the housing authority plan to tap low-income housing tax credits to help finance this new project, but they can't actually buy land targeted for the construction until the Missouri Housing Development Commission approves their applications for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The partners, however, do have to gain control of the sites. They were unable to secure a deal to gain control of the Deluxe Inn land, at 2112 Business Loop 70 E.

"Because it was talked about publicly, the owners of the inn property decided they weren't agreeable to terms that would have allowed us to get site control," Steinhaus said. "The issue was they wanted us to pay them $30,000, and they wanted us to close (the deal) in 90 days." 

The property is owned by Poonam, Inc., according to the Boone County assessor's website. Steinhaus said the $30,000 figure would not have applied to the purchase price. He likened the proposed deal to paying $10,000 a month in rent.

Meanwhile, New Horizons Community Support Services, Inc., which is working with the authority on its affordable housing initiative, was negotiating for a different property on Friday that could potentially accommodate 40 affordable housing units. The proposed project would include 20 homes dubbed "workplace housing" for families or people whose incomes are from 30 percent to 60 percent of the median family income level in Boone County. The other 20 homes would offer support services for families that are below 30 percent of the median family income and include members with mental illnesses or other difficulties that prevent them from living independently.

Steinhaus said Friday marked the deadline for reaching an agreement on the alternative property. Andrea Cheung, director of Development and Project Management for New Horizons Community Support Services, Inc., and Michele Duffe, a principal with ND Consulting Group, could not be reached for comment about whether the negotiations succeeded. Steinhaus said late Friday afternoon that he didn't know whether a deal had been reached.

A key component of the site control process is a payment dubbed "earnest money," Steinhaus said.

"The earnest money is basically a payment to the property owner to 'sit on' (the land) for the next three months and not take any other offers," Steinhaus said. If the purchase does not proceed, the owner keeps the earnest money, and the deal is void. That arrangement protects the landowner.

The housing authority has said it is interested in acquiring several abandoned or vacant properties in the central city to develop affordable housing. It also hopes to use the state tax-credit program to help finance the renovation of public housing apartments on Lincoln and Unity drives.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Corey Parks August 25, 2012 | 1:25 p.m.

I bet the the Feds stopped giving unlimited amounts of money to every single person who wants to go to school the prices would not be as high. As it right now they can keep charging more and more for anything education/housing related because all renters have to do is request more and pay it back later when they are older.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 25, 2012 | 1:45 p.m.

We don't need any more segregated rental housing: segregated by income, ethnicity, age, or any other factor.

What we need is more integrated owner-occupied housing, of the sort Habitat and YouthBuild construct and which other non-profits could build, if they were willing to sell the property and relinquish control for reasonable prices -- not $120,000 for a small house in the central city, but something between $70-80,000 -- or less.

CHA tried to do this with some townhomes on McBaine a few years ago, but though they were sold to the public as owner-occupied -- or "gonna be" owner-occupied after some period of renting -- they are just more long-term rentals.

Instead, CHA wants to spend $70-80K on single unit rental renovations. That seems absurd.

The black community was deprived of its land where most of CHA's projects now sit, and home ownership needs to be restored if prosperity is ever going to be at hand.

The land, once owned, was effectively swiped using eminent domain under the auspices of "urban renewal." It was sold off in parcels to different people and organizations, including a then newly-formed "housing authority."

Land once owned by these families, in other words, was now rented back to them. Columbia and CHA have got to start facing this stuff and doing things right this time around if we are ever to move forward in any meaningful, long term way.

That means no secret deals; no private meetings; no specious claims that "misinformation" is rampant; no investors with hidden agendas; and no gaffing off the history at our collective doorsteps.

This article from a 1975 Missourian story explains the tribulation this loss of land wrought. Using the zoom button if necessary, read the comments from Roland Ballenger on the 4th column over, 1st page.

It starts, "Ballenger, whose home was demolished to make way for the projects...."

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 25, 2012 | 3:58 p.m.

Ever notice how anytime a credit or govt funding or offices are involved the prices skyrocket? I have went over contracts with some govt/mil buildings and I find it amazing that if I called the same company to do a project at my place it would cost $x.xx while when I call them from a reserve center the price is $x.xx x 5. The govt will not let a private individual loan someone money for less then the going interest rate yet have no problem allowing business to scam other govt offices.
Yes that was a tangent but it still holds true to offices scamming each other.

(Report Comment)
Trevor McDonald September 5, 2012 | 12:10 p.m.

I wish to thank you, Mr. Parks and Mr. Martin, for your comments on this issue. I appreciate the context provided by each of you. I will be covering this issue as new information unfolds. Currently, I am contacting owners of parcels of land throughout the area under consideration for future Columbia Housing Authority projects. I will strive to be available for anyone's questions or suggestions. My email address is

Trevor McDonald
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)

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