State Treasurer Behind Housing Effort for Domestic Violence Surv - KOAM TV 7

State Treasurer Behind Housing Effort for Domestic Violence Survivors

JOPLIN, MISSOURI -      State Treasurer Clint Zweifel  wants the Missouri Housing Development Commission to make domestic violence survivors part of a special needs group.

     That's because these victims are a big part of the homeless population.

April Oneal says, "I was a domestic violence victim for twelve years ."

April works at watered gardens now but finding housing when she first left her abuser with her kids wasn't easy.

April says, "We didn't have any money to start with. We didn't have any place to live cause I didn't have a job, cause I hadn't  worked for so long." 

So many victims like April become part of the homeless population.

Louise Secker with the Lafayette House says, "They are staying at their sisters a couple of nights, staying at friends other nights, just moving around constantly."

 The state treasurer says violence victims are the third largest subgroup of the homeless and should be declared a special need. That would open up more housing opportunities for them  in low income tax credit units.

Secker with the abuse shelter says, "I think what the treasurer's doing will be very helpful because it again points the spotlight on domestic violence  as a reason that families and women are homeless."

Tammy Walker, the director of community development at  Economic Security says," I think it's great. That's going to open up more housing opportunities for someone but because the need is so great in our area and because we don't have very many units and everybody wants them,  it's not going to necessarily mean someone's going to get in immediately for housing."

Units like apartments in the Zahn or Ridgeway buildings in downtown Joplin  But Walker says there are only one thousand nine hundred eighty-four units in the four county area of  Jasper, Barton, Newton and  McDonald counties. Meaning victims join a long waiting list.

The Lafayette house can hold up to thirty victims and their kids but sometimes goes above capacity.  The average stay there is three weeks. But victims don't always go into permanent housing from there.

April says, "When I first graduated from Lafayette house, we  then lived with  my grandmother,  then from my grandmother,  we  finally got our own place. So it took about a year and half out of a domestic violence situation."

The treasurer hopes the designation and previously approved tax credits for developers of housing for special needs will change how long it takes.

 Since okayed in 20-11, tax credits to developments which serve populations with special needs have resulted in more than one thousand units of housing dedicated to these individuals statewide.

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