It’s not quite the $127 million proposal State Treasurer Clint Zweifel laid out earlier this week, but the Missouri Housing Development Commission has approved a different plan that will address homelessness and the mentally ill.

“This is a different approach, but the critical piece of this is that it is a sign of a real commitment on behalf of all the commissioners of addressing homelessness and specifically the homeless population that suffers from mental illness. So for the first time in history, mental illness is now listed as one of the “special need” areas, which is an important step. Physical disabilities, mental impairments have been listed in the past,” Zweifel said.

The MHDC will use money from tax credits to fund two housing developments, one that is 100% special needs service, the other being 10%. Now those with mental illnesses will also qualify for the housing, which will be approved at the beginning of next year.

Zweifel hopes this is just the start of the MHDC committing its resources to the issue in the coming years.

“There were some differences of opinion on developing the best strategies. But the good news is that every commissioner, what I saw today, is a real commitment and interest on continuing to work on this issue and hopefully grow this investment,” Zweifel said.

Zweifel was also pleased to see that providing supportive services was a part of the MHDC’s plan. He says community, faith based and not-for-profits organizations as well as state and local governments will be working in cooperation at these new facilities.

“Building a building isn’t going to solve homelessness. But when you build a safe place to live and you provide those critical supportive services, whether that’s on site care management, or whether that would be coordination of psychiatric and health care resources. Those are the services, when you combine them with a safe place to live, that ultimately give these folks a chance to get back on their feet and ultimately thrive,” Zweifel said.