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Mo. housing panel approves tax credits for Berkeley, Joplin, those with special needs

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon gets a tour of a damaged neighborhood by Berkeley, Mo. Mayor Kyra Watson in St. Louis on April 23, 2011. A tornado hit the region on April 22 damaging or destroying over 750 homes and buildings.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. with information on tax credits for those with special needs

Reporting from KCUR's Elana Gordon used in this report.

Missouri's low-income housing agency has approved $100 million in tax credits to help rebuild Joplin and the St. Louis County community of Berkeley after they were hit by tornadoes earlier this year.

The decision Thursday by the Missouri Housing Development Commission will allocate $90 million of tax credits over 10 years to the Joplin area and $10 million to Berkeley.

A tornado that struck Joplin in May killed 160 people and damaged about 7,500 homes. No one died in the April tornado that hit the St. Louis area.

Commission staff members have estimated the tax credits could finance about 450 housing units, if developers spent about $120,000 per unit and received a typical price for the sale of the tax credit vouchers.

The MHDC has also approved the use of more than $100 million in tax credits to create long-term housing for people with special needs.  Francie Broderick, with Places for People in St. Louis, attended today’s commission vote in Kansas City.  She says for organizations like hers, which provides services for people with mental illnesses, the commission’s new policy  is historic.

“I’ve been working in this field for almost 40 years and there’s still mentally ill people homeless in my parking lot and that’s just horrible," Broderick said. "So this is going to make a real difference, this will create a pool of money that wasn’t available to us before to supported housing.”

Broderick says in the past, it’s been difficult to compete with large developers to get funds from the commission for projects geared towards people with special needs.  Her organization was one of just three special needs housing projects that did get funding from the housing commission last year. But she says this new policy, led by state Treasurer and housing commission member Clint Zweifel, will expand those opportunities across the state.

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