KCUR News
10:22 am
Fri August 26, 2011

State Housing Commission Approves Plan to Reduce Homelessness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Missouri's housing development commission wants to make things a little easier for state residents who are homeless. It's approved a tax incentive program aimed at providing more long term housing. KCUR's Elana Gordon reports.

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About 24,000 people are homeless in Missouri, including kids, veterans, and people with mental illnesses. That's according to state treasurer Clint Zweifel, who over the past two years, has led efforts on the state's housing development commission to expand affordable housing opportunities for those most vulnerable residents.

Yesterday, the full commission gave unanimous approval to a plan Zwiefel first proposed last year. It sets aside up to a third of the state's housing tax credits - totaling more than $100 million - for special needs housing projects.

Francie Broderick, with Places for People in St. Louis, attended yesterday's commission vote in Kansas City. She says for organizations like hers, which provide services for people with mental illnesses, the commission's new policy is historic.

"I've been working in this field for almost 40 years and there are still mentally ill people homeless in my parking lot," says Broderick. "And that's just horrible. So this is going to make a real difference. This will create a pool of money that wasn't available to us before for supported housing."

Broderick says in the past, it's been difficult to compete with large developers to get housing funds for projects geared towards people with special needs. She says her organization was the first of just a few special needs projects that did get funding from the commission last year. But she says this new policy will expand those opportunities across the state.

The housing commission's approved plan for next year also includes a policy requiring that ten percent of all development projects go to minority-owned businesses, and five percent to women-owned businesses.

Project applications are due in November; the commission will make decisions on them by the beginning of next year.

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