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Survey reveals desire for building and maintaining affordable housing in Columbia


Columbia's Housing and Community Development Commission met Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Included on the roster for Wednesday’s meeting– the results from a survey issued by the city in February

Residents were invited to fill out 11 questions asking about housing and development needs in the community. After 358 responses, that survey closed on May 10. 

"There's a lot of choices with these funds," Rebecca Shaw, Housing and Community Development Commissioner said. "I think best for us, whenever we're trying to speak for the citizens, we want to know what the citizens think."

According to the survey, the two top priorities are building new affordable housing and maintaining current housing through repairs and upgrades. 

“Really, it's an opportunity for the community to have input on what the city should prioritize in terms of funding affordable housing or community development activities,” Randy Cole, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority, said.

Columbia Housing Authority partnered with the City to help distribute the survey to the organization’s residents. According to the Housing Authority’s website, it provides housing assistance to over 1,900 families in Boone County.

“We have close to 150 to 200 individuals that come into our lobby each week,” Cole said. "Our waitlist is over 1,300 households in need of affordable housing. So we're just seeing a significant demand for more affordable housing in our community.”

The organization has seen that increase in need since 2020. However, hearing from the community could help the City decide how to respond Cole said.

Additionally in the survey, residents were asked how they would like funds used by the city. Shaw added that those funds can sometimes weigh in around $1.2 million.

“Provide a City program that buys and removes abandoned and dilapidated houses used to rebuild affordable housing,” ranked highest according to the results.

“We have a huge need for housing options in this community,” an anonymous survey participant wrote. 

“Quality housing is important for everyone,” another result reads. “If you have a nice, well-kept home you feel better as a person and tends to keep a neighborhood safer and cleaner.”

“We are seeing rental rates increase at a fast and untenable pace,” a different anonymous user submitted. “This will lead to more folks becoming unhoused. The need for services and shelter will grow.”

A full list of those responses can be found here.

"This told us a lot of what we kind of already knew, that there's enough affordable housing in the city," Shaw added during the meeting. "And going through the comments that were left by people that did the survey, it's really very clear to me that we have a lot of work to do."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
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Abby Landwehr


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