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Affordable housing units across the city are getting renamed, re-branded and converted as part of a major effort to revamp federal housing assistance in Springfield. 

Starting this fall, the Springfield Housing Authority and partners will be using $35 million in tax credits, tax exempt bonds and other sources to rehab 297 units. 

It will mark the first of three phases designed to phase out “public housing” and move toward a federal voucher-based program that would eventually allow willing tenants in good standing to seek qualified units elsewhere, said Katrena Wofram, the executive director of the Housing Authority of Springfield. 

The first phase of renovations will be for family units on Bolivar Road, the Dogwood Square complex on South Avenue, South Patton Avenue and West Madison Street near downtown, several units in complexes on North Delaware and South Weaver Roads, as well as other homes scattered throughout the city. 

Wolfram said those particular units were built in 1972 and not only need major repairs and curbside appeal, but converting them to voucher-based units would also eliminate some of the stigma associated with public housing.  

“We hope once we get rid of the public housing stigma that folks will take care of their properties and be proud of where they live,” she said. 

The second phase of renovations will encompass the area’s high rises, Stillwell Columns and South Tower, and then move to phase three, which includes Madison Tower, Heritage Tower and building an apartment complex for veterans experiencing homelessness commonly called “HUD-VASH.” 

The tenant vouchers will work much the same way as a traditional public housing unit, being offered to people who make at or less than 60 percent of the area’s median income, or $37,740 for a family of four. Those who qualify pay a maximum of 30 percent of their income toward rent and the housing authority subsidizes the rest. 

The first phase of renovations will be paid for using tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission, tax-exempt bonds and other sources.

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The project was made possible through a federal program called Rental Assistance Demonstration that allows housing agencies to leverage public and private debt to address deferred maintenance. 

Wolfram said she hoped the use of tax credits and other programs will continue, in part because Springfield, like many cities across the country, has large need for affordable housing.

“I just think this is going to be great for our community,” she said. “It’s going to help the economics of Springfield.” 

Katie Kull covers local government for the News-Leader. Got a story to tell? Give her a call at 417-408-1025 or email her at kkull@news-leader.com. You can also support local journalism at News-Leader.com/subscribe.

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