JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee held their quarterly meeting Wednesday in Jefferson City. Leaders from community services providing housing and other support services met with staff from the community initiatives of the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) to discuss new legislation and updates on trust fund spending.
Megan Word, the legislative coordinator for MHDC relayed at both the state and federal level, legislators had done relatively little work lately in terms of housing, primarily because the election has occupied most politicians’ time. However, she noted housing had progressed since July with President Barack Obama signing a unanimous piece of legislation sponsored by Missouri’s own Republican Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.
The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act will modify the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rental assistance and public housing programs and the Department of Agriculture’s single family housing guaranteed loan program. Those provisions have been widely supported by Congress for a decade, and now it has been officially enacted.
The Senate is also working on legislation called the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2016 a bill designed to expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. It would address what many experts consider a dire need of more affordable housing to meet the need of people looking for such a service.
Generally, Word was encouraged by Congress’ focus on housing as a main issue.
“It is a conversation that I think has gained momentum, and I think that is good news for anyone involved in housing,” she said.
Missouri did not pass legislation during the veto session that impacted housing, but Word noted new leadership in both chambers could affect new legislation. She noted, in particular, the upcoming changes in the budget committee leadership in the House and Senate could affect funding for housing programs.
The advisory committee also discussed the Oct. 31 deadline will put recipients of the MHTF’s grants up for review. If the recipients of those grants have not spent 50 percent of the funds they have received halfway through the fiscal year (MHDC’s fiscal year begins April 1), then those grants become subject to recapture.
Sarah Parsons, the community initiatives manager for the MHDC, noted oftentimes grants like those for home repair or construction are delayed due to weather or a myriad of other problems. Their office evaluates the reasons if a recipient does not spend their allotted amount of funding and then determines whether or not to recapture.
The reason it is important to recapture is a matter of competition. Different housing service providers have requested roughly $10 million in collective grant money this year, and the MHDC only has about $3 million to distribute. So, any recipient that does not use those funds is taking away from those who did not receive grant money.
“It’s very competitive. There are so many requests that when people don’t spend their money, we have to justify with them why we gave them money,” Parsons explained during the meeting. She also said the state had improved in terms of its selection process; it does not recapture nearly as many funds as in the past.
Regardless, all recaptured money is spent in the region the grant from which the grant was recaptured.
The advisory committee’s next meeting will be in January.