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Survey reveals homelessness and affordable housing key priorities for City of Columbia commission


The Columbia Housing and Community Development Commission discussed key areas of the city that need to be addressed Wednesday, including homelessness and affordable housing.

According to the housing and community development needs survey, the two priorities are a 24-hour homeless service center and affordable housing.

The commission also discussed funding requests for several community providers.

The Voluntary Action Center and the Food Bank of North East and Central Missouri are two community providers that requested funds from the CDBG.

VAC requested $400,000 for its Opportunity Campus, which will include meal services, laundry, a computer lab, medical and dental services and housing for people without homes. VAC is partnering with several other community providers like Turning Point and the Columbia Housing Authority.

The Food Bank is requesting the money for its new central food bank which will be on Business Loop 70. The new food bank will be larger with cold storage and help them to provide nutritious foods to its customers.

Other providers requesting funds include Love Columbia and Services for Independent Living.

The commission also heard a presentation and request for funding about funding from the city's Homeownership Assistance (HOA) Program.

Members of the housing authority are requesting $200,000 dollars to continue the program in 2023. The city's program is designed to help first-time home buyers who meet certain guidelines and may not have the funds for a down payment or other up-front costs when buying a home.

Applicants may receive between $5,000 to $10,000 in the form of a 10-year forgivable loan at 0% interest. Columbia will also spend an additional $500 to get rid of lead hazards.

The city expects the funds to help between 20 to 30 households. Columbia will require potential homeowners to provide a minimum of $500 in cash toward the purchase.

The program does offer two expectations to the first-time home buyers rule, which include single-parents or displaced homemakers.

Potential homeowners also must find a property within Columbia city limits in order to qualify for the program.

"The program remains important to the City in stabilizing neighborhoods," according to the proposal. "The program helps build property values through increasing the homeownership rate in neighborhoods."

Potential applicants can learn more about the HOA program by reaching out to the Columbia Community Development Department.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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