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Columbia City Council prioritizes affordable housing and homelessness in its recommendations for ARPA money


The Columbia City Council will vote Monday to award $25.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The city listed the recommended funding in a news release Thursday, with affordable housing set to receive the most money at $8.6 million.

Organizations intended to receive some of this funding include the Columbia Housing Authority, Central Missouri Community Action and the Columbia Community Land Trust.

The Columbia Housing Authority could receive the most funds, including $3 million for Providence Walkway Affordable Housing and $2 million for Park Avenue reconstruction. The awarding of the money still requires city council approval.

Columbia Housing Authority CEO Randy Cole said the Providence Walkway Affordable Housing project will complete the last stage in the renovation of 50 public housing units.

"We'll be demolishing those structures and rebuilding new, nice, affordable housing for our residents," Cole said. "So, we're really excited."

That project will also include more veteran housing and updates to the Blind Boone Community Center.

He said the Providence Walkway Affordable Housing project and the Park Avenue reconstruction, along with another project in the works, will create 50 more housing units. He said this will help some of the 1,400 households waiting for assistance get affordable housing more quickly.

"There's a lot of excitement amongst our residents about our community investing in them and their lives," Cole said.

Cole said if the funds aren't awarded, the project will likely get shelved until more funding could be awarded.

"Every investment in our housing and expansion thereof makes a difference," Cole said. "And we're going to feel the impacts of the funding for these projects."

The proposal would award the next largest chunk of ARPA funds, more than $5.6 million, to address homelessness. Organizations recommended for this funding include Love Columbia, True North, Room at the Inn, the Voluntary Action Center and the CoMo Mobile Aid Collective.

Love Columbia is recommended to receive $600,000 for transitional housing. Executive director Jane Williams said this money will go toward a sixplex on the corner of College and Ash Streets to house families in difficult times.

"Transitional housing is really important because there's often a need to wait on a waiting list for an income-based housing or for a housing choice voucher. That takes time," Williams said. "Also, just to pay off old debt or save for that first month's rent and deposit, it takes time. So, we're very excited about this opportunity to really help families in their lowest moments."

She said she's pleased to see the city recognizing the need for housing in the community, and what she called the 'invisible homeless;' people who aren't out on the streets, but are living with family members and just trying to get enough money to get by.

"There's a great book out, 'Homelessness is a Housing Problem,' and we see that in communities where there's a higher rate of homelessness, it's typically because of low rental vacancy and high rental prices," Williams said. "And we have that situation here in Columbia."

The full list of ARPA recommendations includes:

  • $8.6 million for affordable houisng
  • $5.6 million to address homelessness
  • $3 million for mental health
  • $2.4 million for workforce development
  • $2.1 million to address community violence
  • $1.3 million for access to services
  • $1.3 million for workforce support
  • $750,000 for capacity building

The city released a survey last summer of nearly 4,500 residents about how they wanted ARPA funds to be spent. According to the survey, people want to see the funds spent on health services including mental health, affordable housing, premium worker pay, funding for homeless residents and household assistance.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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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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