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Columbia Housing Authority discusses future without state tax credit

The Columbia Housing Authority will move forward on a $9 million renovation project, despite the loss of a major state tax credit.

The board unanimously approved the CHA to begin seeking development agreements for renovations to the Providence Walkway Townhomes, 50 units near Douglass High School. CHA expected to apply for $3.2 million of Missouri’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funds for the project, which the Missouri Housing and Development Commission ended last week.

Steinhaus said the CHA will still pursue the project, and apply for whatever funds the Housing and Development Commission can offer. Steinhaus said they could also ask for more money through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

The commission voted 6-2 on Friday to end the state’s program, which matched $140 million in federal dollars for low-income housing projects across the state. Gov. Eric Greitens, a critic of the program, said only 42 to 55 cents of every dollar went toward construction of low-income housing.

“That’s a bad deal any way you cut it,” Greitens said in a statement on Nov. 17. “If you spend a hard-earned dollar, you expect a dollar of value.”

Steinhaus said some of the LIHTC money goes toward legal and environmental costs of projects, but that the value of the program gave the state a good return on investment.

“There’s all sorts of things you have to do to make sure you have a safe, well-constructed and quality product in the end,” Steinhaus told ABC 17 News.

Members of the CHA board said they hoped Boone County’s delegation to the General Assembly would support making changes to the program in order to restore funding.

Steinhaus said the state program has resulted in their ability to renovate 597 units of their 717 public housing units. The program also helped them build the Patriot Place apartments for low-income veterans last year.

The Providence Walkway Townhomes were built in the early 1960s, Steinhaus said. The renovations of them, and the hundreds of other units, have benefited the lives of those living there. Without the state LIHTC, Steinhaus said maintenance costs of the older units will continue to rise.

“Instead of aging, sixty-year old public housing properties that had bad sewer lines, inadequate electrical systems, no insulation in the walls, we’re renovating and investing back in central Columbia,” Steinhaus said.

Steinhaus said its financial consultant on the Providence Walkway project identified two different ways to fund the project without the state LIHTC. One involves requesting $6.5 million in federal LIHTC, and pursuing $2 million in other federal housing programs. The other plan involves funding the renovations almost entirely through the federal LIHTC at $8.5 million.

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