The KC Star's Editorial: Fight Homelessness with Tax Credits for Affordable Housing
Editor, Kansas City Star
Help for mentally ill and chronically homeless Missourians has fallen far short in recent years. On Thursday, the Missouri Housing Development Commission will have the ability to make up a bit of the distance.
Commissioners will meet in Kansas City to allocate about $366 million in state and federal tax credits for affordable housing projects.
They should heed a recommendation by state Treasurer Clint Zweifel to dedicate a third of that amount to housing for the mentally ill and other groups likely to end up on the streets.
By freeing up $122 million, the commission could finance about 400 housing units. That brick-and-mortar investment would allow social service agencies to provide counseling and other forms of help.
In Kansas City, a lack of options for persons with acute psychiatric problems is a prime cause of homelessness, emergency room visits and jail overcrowding. Safe housing, in some cases with on-site staffs, would make a huge difference.
Last year, for the first time, the housing commission agreed to use low-income housing tax credits to reduce homelessness. It approved six projects with a total of 191 units, including a new, 48-unit building next to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City. Work on that project is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
The commission’s staff this year favors dedicating one-third of the available credits to projects aimed at reducing homelessness. Commissioners should follow their advice.
It would be good for the image of the housing credit program, which has been accused of doing more good for developers and buyers of tax credits than low-income residents. And it would be good for Missouri residents and communities.
2011 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. http://www.kansascity.com
COMMENT by M
Aug. 24, 2011
The country can't pay it's bills, is broke, and at any moment could crash around our ears in the blink of an eye as it's happened to every country in history who are where we are now.
The question is do we want to set up more government entitlements and add people that we man not be able to sustain. Are we making our own snake-pit we can never get out of?
This is not the time to add more government entitlements when there's talk of cutting social security etc. wither it's for real or not at this time, it will be sooner or later as a necessity.
What are other countries doing to help the poor? Just heard we are going to go into debt $3 trillion dollars this year, what are we thinking?
We need to save our pennies to feed people. We have and will always have hungry people. Soup kitchens open 24 hours in several locations might help solve a lot of problems, think about it. Also places set up with free big commercial washers and dryers so their clothes can be washed while they shower. Meet their basic needs. Those needing jobs can work there.
Rather than wasting $100 MILLION DOLLARS on a huge ugly useless street car system, wouldn't it be better to feed our hungry, help those we can? It's about people not THINGS. Where are our priorities? A 1,000 bed hotel, have people lost touch with reality? Has greed taken over to the point we can't balance our books and think clearly? WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF MONEY, CREDIT!
This article grieves my soul, but this only helps a few...we need to think about the masses that are going to be hungry and prepare for them now. Please consider real soup kitchens, washing machines and monitored showers. Meet basic needs for all not just a few.