By Wally Kennedy
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Gov. Jay Nixon unveiled a $122 million initiative on Tuesday to promote the immediate construction and rehabilitation of single-family, owner-occupied houses, and the long-term development of single- and multi-family dwellings in Joplin.
“Jumpstart Joplin’’ has two objectives. Approximately $22 million in funding is being made available for short-term housing recovery. Approximately $100 million will be available for long-term housing via the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which supports the construction of affordable, low-income housing.
Nixon said one of the pressing needs facing both Joplin and Duquesne is housing. To get the housing market moving, Nixon said the state felt an infusion of funding was necessary.
“If you don’t have enough houses, you can’t keep people here,’’ he said. “The dollars are there now to rebuild the housing stock here.’’
The announcement comes at a time when Joplin’s real estate market is going through a massive realignment. Land transactions in Joplin are taking place at an extraordinary pace as homeowners prepare to rebuild, and as others sell out and relocate.
Parcels of land in Joplin are changing hands now at three times the rate that took place before the May 22 tornado.
Donna Grove, Jasper County recorder of deeds, on Tuesday said, “At first, there wasn’t anything, and then there were lots and lots of release deeds. This is where people got their insurance money, paid off their deeds and bought something else.
“They have said they can’t wait three months to build. They need a place to live now and are buying something somewhere else.’’
The office is now handling documents associated with transfer of deeds, quit claim deeds, and new deeds of trust.
“The volume before the tornado was about 65 documents a day,” Grove said. “Now, we are averaging 180 documents a day. We haven’t seen this much activity since the market was booming in 2002 and 2003.
“There would be no other explanation for this upturn than the tornado in Joplin. A lot of property is changing hands in Joplin right now.’’
The governor’s announcement Tuesday at the State Resource Recovery and Rebuilding Center came as good news for Jimmer Pinjuv, developer of Wildwood Ranch, a housing development west of Joplin.
“It’s good that they are directing this money toward Joplin,” he said. “We will need it to restore the housing that Joplin needs.’’
Pinjuv plans to begin construction of 160 apartment units within the next 30 to 45 days. Those units will have safe rooms included in the construction.
“We are pre-leasing those now,” he said. “Occupancy is planned for February. We also have builders who are looking at lots here. We’ll know more about that in two weeks. Things are starting to move forward now.’’
As debris removal continues, other developers have been acquiring lots in the tornado damage zone and are beginning work there. On the north and south sides of the damage zone, property owners are hiring contractors to rehabilitate their homes.
An exact number of residential building permits issued by the city since May 22 could not obtained on Tuesday.
Said Nixon: “Since the May 22 tornado, we have deployed every available agency and resource to ensure that Joplin is rebuilt and brought back to normal as quickly as possible. Ensuring that residents, and especially families, have access to adequate, affordable housing is a critical part of that recovery process.’’
Approximately $22 million in funding is being made available for near-term housing recovery, including:
• $10 million in construction financing assistance for developers, which would be available upon approval by the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
• $7 million from the Neighborhood Preservation Program, through the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
• $3.5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
• $1 million in down-payment assistance through the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
• $600,000 for home repairs through the Home Repair Opportunity Program.
The governor is recommending that the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) modify its 2012 Qualified Allocation Plan to direct more than $100 million in state and federal low income housing tax credits to the Joplin area to support long-term, permanent housing development.
Tina Beer, spokeswoman for the MHDC, said the commission has $260 million available in tax credits. Last year, St. Louis received 34 percent of that amount. Kansas City received 19 percent. The rest of the state received 47 percent.
This year, $100 million will be “skimmed off the top and sent straight to Joplin,’’ Beer said. “We want to get the money on the street as soon as we can.’’
The remaining $160 million will go to St. Louis, Kansas City and the rest of the state, she said. “What that means is that even more than $100 million could go to the Joplin area because Joplin could get a share of the $160 million,’’ she said.
The commission will publish a notice of the funding availability for low-income housing tax credits. Developers within the private sector will send applications to the commission.
“This is a competitive process,” Beer said. “We will have four to five applications for every one (that) we approve. We underwrite those that are feasible and offer the best products at the best price with affordable rents. The $100 million is for rental property only.’’
Not only will the targeted investment address critical housing needs in the Joplin region, Nixon said, but it will create thousands of new jobs and pump millions annually into the state’s economy.
City Manager Mark Rohr said, “We appreciate the help the governor and the state of Missouri are providing to Joplin. This will be one of many tools and incentives we hope to provide to Joplin residents and businesses to help the town recover from the impact of the tornado. We are researching and developing more opportunities that we hope to present in the near future.’’
For details on each available program, residents of the Joplin area are encouraged to visit the State of Missouri Resource, Recovery and Rebuilding Center at 705 Illinois Ave. Information on each program can also be found on the state’s website, www.mo.gov.