COLUMBIA – A public hearing was held to receive citizen feedback on identifying housing and community development needs within the Columbia community on Wednesday evening.
The City of Columbia estimates that it will receive approximately $1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and $600,000 in HOME funds in fiscal year 2023, specifically for people and community needs. low and middle income families.
The hearing focused on affordable housing, community facilities for service providers, infrastructure for low-income neighborhoods, homelessness prevention and shelters.
HOME funds come from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are specifically for housing, while CDBG funds come from a different source, according to Conrad Hake, program manager at Love Columbia.
Hake says he hopes the funds will be used for the big picture.
“I think the danger right now is to consider spending those funds on short-term projects that won’t make a big difference,” Hake said. “But we’ve seen from year to year, the number of rental units has increased in Colombia. And we see these projects happening all the time. But low-income housing or affordable housing is down.”
Columbia currently has the highest average cost of living in the state, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
Hake adds that the need for shelter in Colombia is very pressing with little or no family shelter available.
“We need more capacity for our homeless shelters,” Hake said. “But we know that a shelter is not a place where someone can stay. We need additional transitional housing. Love Columbia alone has regularly placed up to 20 households per week in hotels, because family shelters are simply not available.”
There is currently only one open family shelter, Harbor House, whose family rooms only have enough space for a family of four, according to Hake.
Columbia Community Development Director Timothy Teddy said homelessness is an issue he wants to address.
“Structures and services that benefit homeless populations are an eligible activity. In our plan, the 24-hour homeless help center is really the top priority when it comes to homelessness. It’s a plan that the Housing and Community Development Commission oversees,” Teddy said.
He adds that this event is more for the public to express their concerns.
“This is a general open house-type hearing where we just want to hear from the public about what they perceive to be the needs for this type of funding. What do they see in the community here in 2022, that’s is particularly urgent, and may need attention,” Teddy said.
These funds will all be available in fiscal year 2023.