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Columbia Housing and Community Development Commission discuss affordable housing and homeless services

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Home being built in Columbia, Columbia, MO

COLUMBIA, MO (KMIZ)

Columbia's Housing and Community Development Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at City Hall. One of the topics on the agenda to discuss includes a recent survey that provides feedback from the community on affordable housing and assisting the homeless population.

The FY 2022 Housing and Development Needs Survey showed citizens within the community concerned about access to affordable housing and available resources for the homeless population.

The survey included 25 questions in regards to housing, community development and affordable construction and renovations to homes.

Data from the survey showed that over 65% of community participants believe the city should assist in providing rental vouchers to the homeless population in need of housing. Over 73% believed there should be renovation, construction or expansion of a facility to provide 24-hour service and support to the chronically homeless population in Columbia.

Lori Benson, Regional Director of Community Relations for the Salvation Army, says the Salvation Army already provides a 24-hour service facility to the homeless, but the city providing additional assistance to the homeless population could help in providing more options of service and support for those in need.

The survey also included questions in regards to affordable housing and affordable renovations to homes that need rehabilitation.

Over 60% of the participants agreed in preserving existing housing through comprehensive home rehabilitation, minor home repairs and energy efficiency upgrades. More than 54% of participants believe there should be the construction of new affordable owner-occupied housing. Participants were also in support of the construction of new affordable rental housing, with over 41% of votes.

Citizens are concerned with building or moving into new homes because of the current affordable housing shortage and lumber shortage the country is facing. Affordable housing is limited nationally, since the start of the pandemic. Citizens are in support of renovating and improving the homes they currently live in rather than moving and trying to find a new home in the current limited market. Citizens also believe it is better to repair the current affordable housing rental properties for those in need to live in.

As the survey is set on the commission's agenda for Wednesday night's meeting, members are expected to discuss the findings of the survey and how to move forward with the community's feedback.

During the meeting, the public presented their requests and concerns for funding a 24-hour center for the homeless. Many community members provided public comment in regards to the commission using its funds to assist in creating a facility for the homeless and those in need.

Commission members reviewed the data from the survey along with the public's comments on housing needs and assistance needs for the homeless population in Columbia.

Commission member, Terence Crouch, said it was clear to see where federal funds needed to be distributed after hearing from the public and reviewing the data.

“It gets a 73 percent high rating so I don’t think it leaves a lot to the imagination what the need is but I think it goes beyond just this commission I think it’s something that the city and all the commissions are involved in see this the public see it the commissions hear about it and I think it takes more perhaps just this commission," said Crouch.

Crouch said the commission needs to collaborate with other city and commission leaders on how to move forward with providing assistance to the homeless and looking into creating a 24-hour center.

“A homeless facility it’s just shouting out to us this is what the need is and I think perhaps this is something the staff can take beyond just this commission,“ said Crouch.

Leaders say they are prioritizing the public's feedback on the community needs and assisting those in need.

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Victoria Bragg

Victoria Bragg joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in October 2020.

She is a graduate of Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and is a Dallas native.

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