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Columbia affordable housing projects in jeopardy after vote to end state tax credits

The future of some affordable housing projects in Columbia are in jeopardy after a vote Tuesday to end state tax credits for low-income housing.

As ABC 17 News previously reported, the Missouri Housing Development Commission voted 8-2 to discontinue the state tax credits in 2018. Federal credits will still be available.

Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said they had asked for more than $3 million to renovate the Providence Walkway Townhomes across from Douglass Park. Without those state tax credits, they will have to ask for more than $6 million in federal low-income housing tax credits (previously, asks were capped at $7 million), but there will still be a $2 million gap in funding. If the cap is eliminated, they will have to ask for nearly $9 million in federal low-income housing tax credits to fund the renovations.

“That’s 50 apartments that we hope to renovate. They were built in the early ’60s and they need a lot of fixing up,” Steinhaus said.

After they finish renovations, Steinhaus said the Columbia Housing Authority hopes to build more affordable housing, but that could be in jeopardy after Tuesday’s vote. The CHA is the largest affordable housing provider in the community with 719 units of public housing.

“We know there’s a huge need for affordable housing in Columbia,” Steinhaus said. “Once we complete renovating housing, we’d like to build additional affordable housing in Columbia like we did with Patriot Place for veterans.”

The tax credits have been criticized for being inefficient. Governor Greitens, a member of the Missouri Housing Development Commission, has called the tax credits a “failing program.”

“They are kind of being shortsighted here in not seeing the corollary benefits to the health and welfare of the people that are served by the program,” Steinhaus said.

The elimination of the program has been controversial ever since it was first proposed by former state Sen. Jason Crowell at a meeting in November. He was appointed to the commission by Greitens in September.

The commission held public hearings about the elimination of the state tax credit, but the meeting were conducted by staff members.

“Universally at all these public hearings people spoke in favor of keeping those low income housing tax credits,” Steinhaus said.

“It sucks, it really sucks,” David Wells, a resident at Paquin Towers, told ABC 17 News when asked about the elimination of the state tax credits.

The Columbia Housing Authority finished renovating Paquin Towers in October. Those renovations were funded, in part, through the state low-income housing tax credit program.

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