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Zweifel praises MHDC vote to earmark money for housing for homeless

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2011 - State Treasurer Clint Zweifel praised today the Missouri Housing Development Commission's unanimous vote today in favor of his $122 million housing plan to tackle homelessness in Missouri.

Zweifel is among the four statewide officials who sit on the 10-member board.

"With its vote today, the housing commission and the citizens of Missouri are putting forth an unmatched amount of resources to tackle homelessness in Missouri," Zweifel said. "We are going to embark on the creation of sustainable long-term housing that begins the process of eliminating homelessness for 24,000 Missourians, of which 5,000 are veterans and 16,000 are school-age children with an average age of eight."

"We are saving taxpayer resources by being smarter and more efficient, we are being flexible so markets can adjust to local needs and we are being accountable in our use of public money," Zweifel continued. "We know this can work, and we know we have a long road ahead, but with this commitment we are showing our dedication. A dedication that says as Missourians we don't want our veterans, our family members, our friends, our future sleeping in uncertain conditions with nowhere to call home when we have the resources – the resources to give every Missourian a place to call home."

As we reported earlier:

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel expects to see the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) vote Thursday on his proposal to earmark a third of the state/federal housing tax credits in 2012 to fight homelessness with the construction of low-income housing. The money would amount to $122 million.

Zweifel noted that the proposal has the support of the commission's staff.

Zweifel said in a statement that the earmark would represent "the single largest commitment it has ever made toward ending the cruel cycle of homelessness that exists throughout Missouri."

"There are 24,000 homeless people in Missouri, and for many it is not as simple as finding a place to live," he went on. "They need supportive services that are consistent, reliable and flexible; when these services are provided they are capable of living independently. This investment will create an estimated 400 units of specialized housing ... housing that will efficiently reduce costs to communities throughout Missouri by taking pressure off hospitals, jails, prisons and emergency rooms.

"The ratification of this plan will begin to put to end the unconscionable reality that there are 5,000 homeless veteransand 16,000 homeless children under the age of eight in our state. The time to act is now."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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