Homes leveled by tornado are making a comeback - KOAM TV 7

Homes leveled by tornado are making a comeback; but there is one gap


Joplin city officials show that numerous building permits have been issued since the tornado.  But building analysts say there continues to be a missing component within the community.

It may seem like there are still many open spots without any buildings throughout Joplin following the May 22 tornado, but city officials tell us a little more than half of the residential buildings ruined by the tornado are now rebuilt.

"From previous times, I think we're still very well," says Steve Cope of the City of Joplin Building Department.

5,465 building permits have been issued so far for tornado-related residential repairs and rebuilding.  Last month alone the city's profit off these permits was more than $8 million.

One of the neighborhoods to quickly rebuild is located near the area of 26th and Adele Streets.  Many residents took full advantage of their insurance coverage.

But there's not as much progress north of the old Saint John's hospital between Maiden Lane and Main Streets.  City officials say between 50% to 70% of the homes in this area were rentals and many owners weren't insured for rebuilding costs.

"It's going to be a while before those lots get purchased and that consideration comes back," says Cope.  "The lots are being bought, but I think they're going to change hands a few times before someone decides to speculate."

One builder can change the landscape and draw attention away from memories.

"We've had people come in and tell us that they want to build again but they don't want to build where they lived," says Crystal Harrington of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri.  "It's something that they don't want to walk out the back door every day and remember."

320 apartment units built so far are below fair market rent meaning they are within the budget of many low-income families.

Building analysts say there could've been even more low income housing units built.  The Missouri Housing Commission gives tax credits to builders planning to construct units below fair market price.

"As it turned out some of those guys didn't make it on to the books, because the people in the neighborhood were too vocal about not wanting their homes in their neighborhood," says Harrington.

Joplin city officials say any type of housing will take years of determination.

City officials also say some builders are buying two lots in order to build a bigger home or increase property size.  However, that is one more thing going against low income families.


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