City to hear housing plans

Two proposals have unanimous support from the City Council.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:01 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Affordable housing has been a contentious issue in Columbia. Earlier this year, the Missouri Housing Development Commission denied a loan to the Wyatt Lane Acres affordable housing project in northeast Columbia after nearby residents objected.

Two new proposals for affordable housing projects in Columbia, the subject of a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. today in the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center, have the unanimous support of the City Council.

The first development would be built at the corner of Bethel Street and Nifong Boulevard. To fund the Bethel Ridge proposal, Jeffrey E. Smith Cos. of Columbia is requesting a $2.08 million MHDC loan and $555,227 in federal and state rental-housing tax credits. The development would consist of 72 two-bedroom units for seniors with projected rents of $383 to $420 a month.

Fifth Ward Councilman John John said he hasn’t heard any complaints from residents in the ward about the proposal, and the property is already zoned for apartments.

“It seems to be a very effective way of providing decent housing for people who might not be able to afford it otherwise,” John said.

A separate proposal from the Yarco Companies of Kansas City proposes to renovate 26 one- and two-bedroom apartments for families at Claudell Lake Homes on Claudell Lane. Yarco has requested a $589,000 MHDC loan and $155,224 in federal and state tax credits.

Tom Lata, community development coordinator for the city, said both local proposals are for rental housing — unlike the Wyatt Lane project that involved home ownership.

Lata said JES Cos. owns the property for that project and does not foresee any objections. Lata said he did not have much information about the Yarco proposal.

The public hearing tonight covers 34 regional proposals for affordable housing developments, including the two in Columbia. Statewide, the commission is considering 111 proposals.

“We can usually fund about one-third of the proposals,” said David Bryan, public information administrator for the MHDC. “That’s about all the funding we have available.”

Bryan said MHDC is looking for projects that have the support of the community, would provide housing for a particular need in the community and that could realistically be built if approved.

“But there’s always projects left over that we would love to fund,” Bryan said.

Roy Dudark, city planning director, said there is a great need for this type of housing but residents seem to have a negative perception of such projects.

“A lot of times it’s based on incomplete information,” Dudark said. “People automatically think low income, crime and loss of property values ... without knowing the details.”

Dudark said the city’s need for affordable housing is much greater than either of these projects could meet, but the proposals would be a positive step.

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