JEFFERSON CITY — A House bill that would revive Missouri’s main tool to fund affordable housing gained committee approval Thursday morning.
The state’s low-income housing tax credit program has been frozen since December 2017, when the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted to stop issuing the credits, which had previously been granted at a dollar-for-dollar match with the federal tax credit program.
Without the program, about one-third of affordable housing projects that would normally gain approval from MHDC have been cut, according to Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus.
House Bill 665, which passed out of the House Legislative Rules committee unanimously Thursday morning, would cap the dollar-amount of credits issued at 72.5 percent of the federal level. Between 2012 and 2016, the average annual total in state credits issued was around $150 million. Based on that average, the amount issued in tax credits would be just under $110 million for the coming year.
The bill would bring back the program at the same cap as Senate Bill 28, which was approved by the Senate in February. Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who sponsored Senate Bill 28, said that he expects either the House or Senate bill to make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the session.
“It’s kind of late for a House bill to be passed,” Hegeman said. “The Senate bill is pretty well through the process right now. I think we’ve got time.”
Jeff Smith, executive director of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, which includes nearly 200 development groups and housing authorities statewide, said he expects one of the bills will get signed by Gov. Mike Parson this session.
Smith said there is a sense of urgency among legislators he has spoken with to bring the program back, even with a 72.5 percent cap on the state’s match to the federal credits.
“You never like to see a program that does so much good be cut,” Smith said. “But given the growing number of people on waitlists who need decent housing as soon as possible, it’s worth taking a cut to get the program back up and running.”