Housing agencies to receive aid

Columbia housing assistance agencies will use the grants to aid families in need of safe shelters.
Friday, January 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:20 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

As Columbia faces a shortage of affordable housing, local housing assistance agencies will receive money today from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

The commission plans to approve $6.25 million in grants statewide from the Missouri Housing Trust Fund. Four of the 188 applications came from Columbia-based groups.

“Columbia would have more homeless people if it weren’t for this fund,” said Jennifer Graves, fiscal manager at The Shelter, which serves victims of domestic violence.

Comprehensive Human Services, which runs The Shelter, expects a $35,000 grant from the commission. It will use the money to continue its rental and mortgage assistance program, which helps families find and keep homes free of domestic violence.

Last year, money from the commission allowed The Shelter to help 54 families establish a secure home. Without the grants, the program would shut down, Graves said.

The Salvation Army plans to receive money from one of its two funding requests. The commission staff recommended $40,000 for the agency’s rental assistance programs, which try to prevent homelessness, said Maj. George Windham, commanding officer for Boone County. The commission staff, however, did not recommend granting the more than $36,000 the organization sought for operational costs, such as salaries and utilities.

Requests from the Kansas City-based Phoenix Family Housing Corp. will generate $50,000 for its 3-month-old human services program in Columbia Square. The program includes an on-site social worker, after-school programs and resident services.

David Bryan, spokesman for the housing commission, said commissioners usually vote in favor of all the staff’s recommendations for distributing money from the trust fund.

The Columbia Housing Authority probably won’t get any of the $29,000 it requested to set up an in-house homeowner counseling program.

Director Doris Chiles said the authority wants to do the counseling itself so it can provide more personalized service than that provided by outside lending institutions. She said the program is important enough that the authority will seek funding elsewhere.

Holt’s Summit Square, LP, operated by Columbia-based Jeffrey E. Smith Cos., most likely won’t receive the more than $17,000 it sought for playground equipment.

The commission will also vote today on staff selections for the Rental Housing Production and Preservation program, which gives low-interest loans and tax credits to developers interested in building or rehabilitating low-income housing.

While the commission’s staff did not recommend giving the Smith Cos. tax credits for 72 two-bedroom homes in south Columbia, it recommeded Yarco Co. get $165,000 in credits for work on 46 housing units on Claudell Lane.

Also, with the council’s approval Monday of a letter of support for Yarco’s plan to rehabilitate Lakewood Apartments, the company will receive tax credits and exemptions approved in June for that project.

Jeffrey E. Smith Cos. didn’t receive a recommendation for its requested tax credits on the Bethel Ridge project, where the company plans to build 72 two-bedroom units for the elderly.

The field for the trust fund grants is increasingly competitive, and the commission and its staff decide where the money will have the greatest impact by looking at services already provided in the area, Bryan said.

The trust fund, which is fueled by fees paid when records of new home purchases are processed, contains more money now than it has since its inception in 1994. Bryan said that’s because low interest rates have spurred home buying. Still, the trust fund only provided funding for about one-third of the $18 million requested this year.

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