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Boone County Commissioners prioritize housing projects in final round of ARPA funding


Boone County commissioners approved more than $6.5 million in ARPA funding Tuesday, with affordable housing projects receiving a large chunk of the money.

Four affordable housing projects were approved totaling just under $3 million. Those include include:

  • $850,000 to Welcome Inn
  • $835,000 to the Columbia Housing Authority's Bear Creek Expansion Renovation
  • $750,000 to Central Missouri Community Action
  • $560,000 to Habitat for Humanity

Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson said funding housing projects has been intentional in both rounds of ARPA funding to try to figure out how to get people into both affordable and long-term housing.

"The stress that's involved with somebody who is unsheltered or is housing insecure creates a ripple effect throughout our community," Thompson said. "So, we really have to find housing along the whole spectrum of housing for folks so that they can move up and gain that security and then thrive."

She said commissioners have looked at the monetary cost of the project and how many people it will serve when deciding on funding, along with the organization's track record.

Out of the 19 total applications that will receive funding, the project getting the most money is the Welcome Inn with $850,000.

According to the application, the funds will be used to expand service at the Welcome Inn in Columbia to provide affordable housing, workforce opportunities and community empowerment.

Funds will be used to renovate the existing Welcome Inn property at 1612 N. Providence Road. The application said this site is used as an extended-stay hotel that serves hundreds of people each year who struggle to find affordable housing.

The applicant, Kel Beal, wrote in the application, "We are committed to providing an affordable alternative to homelessness in our community and we cannot embark on a project like this without jeopardizing our ability to provide a low-barrier alternative solution to a portion of our community in desperate need."

Beal did not respond for comment on Tuesday.

Thompson said she thinks projects like these are a great use of already-existing buildings in Boone County.

"I think we just have to think outside the box," Thompson said. "You don't necessarily have to build new, look at what you have. Look at the assets in your community and say, 'How can we use that in order to get people housed?'"

Habitat for Humanity spokesperson Ashley Switzer said while Boone County isn't alone in its affordable housing crisis, it is still a huge cost burden to residents.

"Here in Columbia and the rest of Boone County, at least 50% of our homeowners are paying more than 50% of their entire monthly income just on rent," Switzer said. "And that's just not affordable when you're looking at utilities and car payments and child care and food."

The $560,000 going to Habitat for Humanity will be used to build five new homes off of Brown Station Road.

Switzer said these are homes people can own with zero interest mortgage at less than market value. The 3-bedroom homes are appraised around $185,000 and are going for about $140,000. She said the monthly mortgage payment for the homeowners is between $600-$700 including taxes, insurance and maintenance.

"Moving into a Habitat home that is more affordable, more energy efficient, it makes a huge difference," Switzer said. "They actually can own that property and effect that generational wealth change."

The money going to Central Missouri Community Action will be used to develop a neighborhood of affordable homes near downtown Columbia, and the Columbia Housing Authority will create four new housing units and make repairs at its Bear Creek location, according to the applications.

Along with affordable housing, other projects receiving Boone County ARPA funds include things for infrastructure, workforce development and support for the homeless population.

This is the final round of ARPA funding and Thompson said the commission hopes to have contracts out by late May or early June.

Article Topic Follows: Boone

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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