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MO Housing Development Commission approves tax breaks for various housing projects across the state

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Housing Development Commission on Friday awarded nearly $17 million in tax breaks to various companies wanting to build new affordable housing units across the state.

It's an annual function of the state Housing commission, the awarding of state tax credits for the construction of housing for low and mid-income tenants.

Chairman Dick Baalmann says there's a thorough screening process that developers have to go through, which now includes verifying the immigration status of contract workers.

"It's working quite well...there's an enforcement taking place that has not taken place in prior years...I guess it's just sort of reached a point where it had to be done," Baalmann said.

Earlier this week, a developer was sentenced to fines and probation for using 30 undocumented workers to build a condominium complex at the Lake of the Ozarks.

In a plea deal, Michael Schlup will pay more than $815,000 in back taxes, $140,000 in fines and nearly $25,000 in court costs.

Baalmann, meanwhile, suggests people shouldn't equate cracking down on illegal immigration with racism.

"We do need immigrants in this country...people say, 'Well, you're anti-immigration' and that sort of thing...we're not at all, but we do want our government to know who's here, where they are, pay their taxes, participate," Baalmann said.

Governor Matt Blunt and Attorney General Jay Nixon, who's running against Blunt next year, are each proposing tougher restrictions on businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Roughly $6.2 million in state tax credits were approved by the commission for building projects in the St. Louis area.