A ban on large affordable housing developments looks to be on the table when the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) weighs changes to its low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program this year.

A prohibition on projects with more than 50 units is among the proposals outlined by the agency in a February report to its Board of Commissioners, which includes state Treasurer Clint Zweifel. Exceptions may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Zweifel asked for the report in December, following last year’s events in Ferguson, Mo.  “Of particular concern for residents in the Ferguson area and surrounding communities is the disproportionately high concentration of low-income housing in North St. Louis County,” he wrote. “This includes not only MHDC housing, but also Sec. 8 voucher usage.”

He requested a review of current policies and procedures that analyze the need for housing and density of low-income housing in any particular area.

A concern has been that having a high number of low-income housing developments in a neighborhood leads to crime and other problems in the area.

In Ferguson, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in a neighborhood with low-income apartments.

As the city’s unemployment rate rose from around 7% in 2000 to 13% in 2010-12, the number of households using housing vouchers climbed from 300 to 800 and the city’s poor population doubled, according to Elizabeth Kneebone at the Brookings Institution.

By 2012, “one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), and 44% fell below twice that level,” according to Kneebone.

MHDC leaders will also consider other changes to their LIHTC qualified allocation plan, including a prohibition on new construction in a census tract where more than 20% of the total units are publicly subsidized.  Again, exceptions may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Another proposal is to create a new priority for applications proposing a development in a census trace with a poverty rate below 15%, according to the report by Kip Stetzler, interim executive director.

The potential changes have not yet been formally presented to the board, so MHDC declined to comment.

  • Other proposals

    Other possible changes outlined in the report include:Giving higher priority to proposals that include service-enriched housing features such as youth activities/sports programs, job search programs, daycare services, tutoring, and parenting programs;

  • Creating a priority for proposals that are part of a municipality-approved redevelopment or master plan;
  • Adding police departments to a list of agencies and entities that must be notified of the housing proposal; and
  • Requiring new construction proposals to include Universal Design.

The proposals are expected to go through a vetting process by stakeholders in April and then staff will present a draft 2016 QAP to the board in May. Under the plan, the commission-approved draft would then be presented at public hearings during the first week of June.