City officials are optimistic over housing starts
November 15, 2011
Based on the number of building permits issued through November 11, 2011, Joplin city officials have determined that 48% of the 7500 homes impacted by the May 22 tornado are either under repair or being rebuilt. As of the end of last week, building permits had been filed for repairs, rebuilds or new construction for 3,639 dwellings that include homes, duplexes and apartments.

“This is a significant number,” said City Manager Mark Rohr. “We are encouraged by the resiliency of our citizens. We also recognize that the City is an active partner with them in this resurgence and are working to ensure positive growth throughout our community.”

A post-tornado housing market analysis commissioned by the city indicated that a total of 3,100 housing units need to be replaced, 1,400 of those as rental dwellings, and of that amount, 560 should serve as affordable spaces. The remaining 1,700 housing units would be owner-occupied homes.

“These numbers are in line with what we are seeing in the building permit applications that have been filed,” said Rohr. To date, 28% of the recommended number of owner-occupied units are under construction, and over half of the permits that have been applied for are repairs or reconstruction in excess of $100,000.

“In rebuilding communities, there is a methodical approach that can benefit City officials, community leaders, private developers and residents to ensure quality housing stock and affordable living for the citizens. We are aware of the need to have a blend of markets to provide equitable housing solutions for all of our citizens. Typically, the private market fills the need for market-rate apartments, and quality affordable housing can be achieved through developers using low-income housing tax credits and other building incentives,” Rohr said.

Recently, the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) held a public meeting to gain comments from citizens on various housing developments proposed in the Joplin and surrounding areas. Rohr noted that it was not a city of Joplin meeting, although the commission has asked city staff to assist in prioritizing project developments. Of the need for 560 affordable housing units, approximately 105, or 19%, are currently in the process of being built. Another 200-300 units are expected to be constructed as a result of the current round of MHDC projects currently under review.

Troy Bolander, director of planning and community development, chairs the review team that has developed a housing standards score sheet that places priority on use of quality construction materials, aesthetics, and location of projects within the EDR area. Following city review, this ranking will be turned over to the MHDC for consideration as they select the projects to be funded this year. The remaining affordable units could be completed with the next round of MHDC projects, to be awarded next year.

“As with any new development or proposal, it is important to have a plan that illustrates different milestones as well as the ultimate goal,” said Bolander. “The city of Joplin is no different. We are not only watching the rebuilding of our residential community, we are actively involved to ensure we meet the needs of our citizens.”

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