City writes Habitat out of HUD housing funding budget

HUD funding previously going to Habitat for Humanity in the city's budget will go in 2019-20 to Community Action Partnership.

Posted: May 13, 2019 9:14 PM
Updated: May 13, 2019 9:15 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Habitat for Humanity staff learned on Monday that they will be written out of the 2019-20 City of St. Joseph budget.

"You feel a little bit of disappointment because you want to feel supported as an agency and we have been here a long time," said Cate Manley, executive director of St. Joseph's Habitat for Humanity. "To not get any allocation is a bit disappointing."

The proposed spending plan has allocated about $480,000 for community housing development activities and does not include the popular local agency.

"That money is usually divided between Community Action Partnership and Habitat for Humanity. This year we made a funding recommendation to provide all the funding to Community Action Partnership," said Don DePriest, the city community development manager.

At issue is a concern city staff had with the progress on previously funded Habitat projects, specifically a plan to build seven homes in the Carden Park area that were supposed to be completed almost two years ago but are still in process.

"The level they spend their money is a little bit different because they have a lot of volunteer people show up. Then there are weather issues that compromise their projects as well," DePriest said.

Habitat staff say they will now need to be more aggressive in finding private parterships for funding.

"If we don't get an allocation, we may not be able to build any homes in St. Joseph. That's pretty concerning and disappointing. We have a lot of families in need," Manley said.

Community Action Partnership will be the unintended beneficiary of the funding shift. The agency's executive director, Whitney Lanning, says she understands the difficult decisions city staff need to make, but says they plan on building three new homes with the HUD funding they'll now receive.

 "Being able to prioritize that and determine who gets what is an incredibly difficult job," Lanning said. "This year we've seen a little bit of an increase so we're just excited to create more safe and affordable housing for people."

Manley says she's still hopeful that more federal funding could come in than anticipated and that Habitat for Humanity will be able to access some of those funds.

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