Developer Housing Plus, LLC, is providing hope to some residents who were devastated by a tornado that ravaged Joplin, Mo., in May 2011.

The developer acquired scattered sites within a 10-block radius in one of the areas hardest hit and rebuilt 32 single-family homes. Twenty-five of the three-bedroom homes serve residents earning 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), while seven are for residents earning 80 percent of the AMI. Housing Plus is working with the Center for Independent Living to set aside 10 percent of the homes for residents with special needs.

Residents started moving in to Hope Cottages in October 2012, with lease-up finishing in June. Eight of the households have come from the Hope Haven FEMA trailer park that provided temporary housing after the tornado.

The craftsman-style houses complement the existing homes in the neighborhood and are built to today’s standards. The homes include Energy Star appliances and HVAC units as well as rear-entry garages with FEMA-certified safe rooms.

“We had never done [individual safe rooms] before, but now it’s something that we are starting to do in all of our developments,” says Housing Plus owner Debra Shantz Hart. “I’ve heard so many people say the Joplin tornado changed everything. I don’t think any of us were prepared for that level of destruction. The tornadoes that we are experiencing now are not like the tornadoes I grew up with.”

After the 15-year low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) compliance period ends, residents will have the option to purchase their homes at a discount.

The $6.6 million project was financed with federal LIHTC equity from WNC, state LIHTC equity from CRA Investments, LLC, and a loan from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of the Rebuild Joplin effort,” says Hart.

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