The Missouri Housing Development Commission is meeting this week to take public comment on a proposal meant to help survivors of domestic violence get housing assistance.
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel (D) proposed the commission include in its definition of individuals with special needs, survivors of domestic violence. That would include them in a group that is served by projects supported by one-third of Missouri’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
Zweifel said those survivors need a place to go.
“They often might have access to a shelter but not that sort of in-between housing that helps them gain the independence that they need to be able to go off on their own,” Zweifel told Missourinet. “We also know that they often need a variety of support services. Mental health support services, counseling services, job training or placement services.”
Jennifer Carter Dochler with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says survivors without options can wind up back in an abusive situation.
“Often times they have a difficult time for several financial reasons, housing being one of them, that they end up going back, so this creates new opportunities,” Dochler said.
Zweifel says the change would also free up room in Missouri’s domestic violence shelters, which are operating at or over capacity.
“One shelter last year in Springfield alone turned down 2,326 women and children, so there is a huge demand, unfortunately for these services,” Zweifel said. “The idea that we can do this in a holistic way and really help provide them the bricks and mortar housing, but also the support services that they need to grow, is really important.”
Meetings taking public comment on the proposed change continue today in Columbia and St. Louis and tomorrow in Springfield. The commission is expected to vote later this month.