Help for Missouri's homeless with disabilities


At its meeting Friday in Columbia, the Missouri Housing Development Commission took a big step toward housing homeless individuals with special needs. 

By Matt Veto

The commission approved the allocation of federal tax credits to finance the initiative. Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel championed the measure that will lead to the construction of more than 160 units. In Columbia, one program will serve people with developmental disabilities and the other will serve people with a mental illness.

"The next step is to monitor and hold these developments accountable," said Zweifel, "that they are providing services as promised. Beyond that it’s to continue to learn on this journey, to ensure that we’re living up to our responsibilities to care for all Missourians."

The focus on special needs is in response to a statistic indicating that about 30 percent of homeless individuals suffer from a mental illness. Commission initiatives manager Heather Bradley-Geary says the overall allocation plan is one of the most aggressive in the country.

"Every night in Missouri, there’s roughly 24,000 people that are homeless. Over 16,000 are children. So this allows us to house people and it’s a step towards ending homelessness in Missouri," said Bradley-Geary.

Zweifel says the state now has 365 units in all. The initiative began in 2010.