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Sales tax may boost affordable housing projects

Board recommends funding for 189 units
Posted at 12:48 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 23:38:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Near the corner of Linwood Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, sits a sign for a new housing development.

The 32-unit apartment complex is unlike any other affordable housing project because of its mission: Linwood Gardens will house domestic violence survivors and their families, while also providing services such as case management.

"You would come here from a domestic violence shelter for permanent housing, just an apartment, but we will also continue to have social services support for those families," said Jim Scott of Scott Associates, which handled architectural design and development planning for the project.

Prairie Fire Development Group is partnering with the nonprofit Linwood Property Inc. to build the complex.

Linwood Gardens is just the latest addition to the Linwood Area Ministry Place, or LAMP, a nonprofit campus that houses Connecting for Good, ReDiscover behavior health clinics, reStart administrative offices and the Front Porch Alliance.

Funding developments like Linwood Gardens can be challenging.

"Many projects need a leg up, which the central city sales tax can provide," Scott said.

The central city 1/8-cent tax passed in 2017 and is designed to spur economic development along the Prospect Avenue corridor.

The Central City Economic Development Sales Tax Board reviews proposals and makes recommendations to the council about where funding should be allocated.

On Wednesday, the board presented its latest recommendations to a special housing committee of Kansas City Council members. The projects total $10.5 million and would create 189 housing units.

Linwood Gardens could receive $1.15 million from the tax fund, which Scott says is filling a gap in funding for affordable housing in Missouri.

That void was created when the state's low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program was put on hold in 2017.

Much like the LIHTC program, funding from the central city sales tax will help Linwood Gardens perform better, according to Scott.

"As we're able to build the sales tax into our project, we'll be able to support the social services," Scott said.

The project broke ground on Monday and is expected to open in the fall of 2020.

The eight recommended sales tax projects will go before the Kansas City Council next week.