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Job Point, Housing Authority look to tackle affordable housing, labor shortage in Columbia


Job Point and the Columbia Housing Authority broke ground Tuesday on a new permanently affordable home in central Columbia.

The two groups are working to combat the city’s affordable housing problem in a way that is also helping to address a skilled labor shortage.

The new house will be built on 207 Lynn St. using students from Job Point to help build the house. The property was purchased by the Columbia Housing Authority. Using Job Point will help make the new home more affordable for families in the Housing Authorities program. 

“It will be structured in such a way that not only will it be affordable to the first buyer but it will also be affordable in perpetuity so each time it sells it will be sold at a value less than what it would bring on the regular market,” Job Point President Steven A. Smith said. 

It’s a formula that Columbia Housing Authority CEO Randy Cole believes the city can build off of in the future to create more affordable housing opportunities in Columbia. 

“We are thrilled with this partnership to partner workforce housing and affordable housing all together providing workforce development and also providing ownership opportunities to Columbia Housing Authority residents, Cole said. “This is a big need that has been expressed by our residents and one that we are determined to meet as we move forward.” 

Homelessness and affordable housing have been hot-button issues in Columbia. Cole believes projects like this are a step in the right direction. 

“In 2022, we had 100 households at the Columbia Housing Authority increase their income level where they moved on and up into market-rate housing," Cole said. "So, we thought this would be a great opportunity to capture those folks who are moving up through our systems and gaining self-sufficiency to also gain access to homeownership."

Job Point has built 34 houses since 2003 and is looking for avenues to enhance students' skills to help them get, or maintain jobs.

“We train and educate folks and help them obtain and maintain employment,” Smith said. “We have several different programs the program we are dealing with here today is primarily our youth build program which is for 16-to-24-year-olds most of whom don’t have their high school diploma or equivalency but they also spend half their time on construction projects like this house.” 

Skill labor has been hard to come by in the United States in recent years, especially in construction. An April report from the Labor Department revealed the number of construction job openings jumped by 129,000 in February while hiring decreased by 18,000.

Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe acknowledged Job Point’s role while addressing the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

“Wherever they land they are going to be needed in whatever community they end up in. Now if you want to start some programs for bus drivers, refuse workers, I just have a lot [of vacancies the city needs to fill]” Buffaloe joked.

Buffalo added that the Housing Authority and Job Point’s track record is the reason they are repeatedly given funding from the city.

"We often get comments like ‘you’re just supporting the same organizations’  and I’ll say what we do is we ask who is proving,” Buffaloe said. “Are they achieving the goals that we expect when we support resources or funding and we want to see that? We have two trusted partners in delivering in the expectations that the city council has set.”

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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