Housing ministry responds to Greitens' cut of Low Income Housing tax credit

Friday, Gov. Eric Greitens and others voted to discontinue the state's Low Income Housing tax credit. Executive Director of River City Habitat for Humanity Susan Cook-Williams said that it is not the time to make such cuts. (Megan Sanchez/KRCG 13)

Susan Cook-Williams said she has seen the pure joy and relief flood a person's face when they realize they no longer have to worry. She has the opportunity to help people who struggle to make ends meet create a place they can call their very own.

Cook-Williams is the executive director of River City Habitat for Humanity. The organization selects families each year that have a demonstrated need for housing. These families are part of building or restoring their future home, and pay a mortgage with an interest-free loan.

The home is usually a house with multiple bedrooms, something that's not affordable usually.

Friday, Gov. Eric Greitens and others voted to discontinue the state's Low Income Housing tax credit. This program provided a federal tax credit to investors in affordable housing.

Greitens said it wasn't producing results.

"For every dollar that went into the program, only about 42 to 55 cents actually went to building housing for poor people," he said. "That’s a bad deal any way you cut it."

However, Cook-Williams said now is not the time to be cutting programs that aid in getting affordable housing built in Missouri. She said her organization builds six homes a year for low income families, but their waiting list has more than 50 families on it.

River City Habitat for Humanity did not utilize this tax credit, but Cook-Williams said the shortage of affordable housing in Missouri is obvious.

"I think because there is such a shortage for affordable housing, any time that we just throw a program completely away, it's a danger," she said.

For every 100 extremely low income renter households in Missouri, there are only 43 available and affordable units, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The coalition defines extremely low income as households with income at or below the Poverty Guideline or 30 percent of average media income (AMI), whichever is higher.

The average price per month for a three-bedroom rental in Cole County is $942. If one were to make minimum wage in Missouri, $7.70 per hour, they would have to work 94 hours a week to afford that three-bedroom.

Greitens said he is still committed to ensuring affordable housing to Missourians.

"Good affordable homes for people who are working hard to get by are important," he said. "We're here to work with people across Missouri, on both sides of the aisle, to do what works."

Cook-Williams said housing is a basic need, and once fulfilled, allows families to focus on so much more.

"When you take away the stress of the constant worry of being either evicted or being able to not afford your home, they're able to focus on building their family, building their future, giving their child an education, making sure that the child has enough to eat," she said. "Just knowing that they have a safe place to put their head at night and to call themselves a family is a huge stress reliever."

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