Some fear loss of tax credit would stop redevelopment in urban core

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri lawmakers are considering doing away with tax credits used to develop low income housing.

Some fear the change would create a housing crisis in the urban core.

In the last six years, more than 1,800 homes have been created in Kansas City alone using the state's low income housing tax credit.

In Ivanhoe, the neighborhood council used state tax credits to build a dozen one-story senior cottages near 38th Street and Garfield Avenue, which opened last year.

They were all rented within two weeks and remain occupied today, an indicator of the strong demand for affordable homes in the central city.

Without the state tax credits, the neighborhood nonprofit group says none of the new homes could be built.

"No, it would not have happened," said Margaret May, president of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council. "We’ve got that kind of housing a number of places in the city, in the older part of the city, where it’s really needed most. It would be devastating if we didn’t have these credits anymore."

Discussion of reducing or eliminating the tax credits are part of the broader push for tax reforms in the Show-Me State.

Nonprofit developers and community development corporations told four state lawmakers at the Gem Theater Monday that revitalizing run down older neighborhoods would grind to a halt without the state incentive.

"I think it would be devastating for Kansas City to lose these incentives," said Jeff Smith of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association. "Kansas City has had a great few years. It seems to be booming. But some people get left behind in those booms. Affordable housing programs like the state low income housing tax credit help developers provide decent, safe, affordable housing and stability for those who would otherwise be homeless or in motels going to a different place every night."

Historically, the credits have had bipartisan support in Missouri.

That's because, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a minimum wage worker in Missouri must work 76 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.