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Moniteau County community figureheads recently came together, at the invitation of Central Missouri Community Action, to form an Affordable Housing Task Force.

CMCA, like other community action agencies, performs a community needs assessment once every three years, and one of the things that came up in the assessment for Moniteau County was it was lacking in affordable housing options. A group including county economic leaders, educators and others attuned to some of the community's housing needs met to discuss which groups in the county might see the most benefit from more affordable housing options.

CMCA Community Organizer Stefani Thompson said CMCA recently hired a housing development manager, who was willing to come to the county to gauge public feedback about those needs — Thompson said CMCA could work to find grants and obtain funding for housing development, but determining whether the need is for something like, for example, single family homes versus apartment complexes was an important factor in pursuing such funding.

Thompson said based on the meeting earlier this month, the consensus seemed to be that transitional housing for individuals exiting Tipton Correctional Center was an area of high need.

"There is a connection between Cargill and those who are being released from Tipton, like giving them jobs at Cargill, but the problem is where (they are) going to stay," Thompson said.

Thompson said the struggle to find housing, specifically for this group, often is a result of these individuals' backgrounds, whether it be a criminal record or a history of substance abuse.

Thompson said the group also agreed middle income homes, such as duplexes, for workers coming in for jobs at the county's factories should be a point of emphasis for CMCA.

Thompson said as far as the group's first meeting goes, it was a productive one, despite elected officials not being present.

"And maybe not for the first meeting did we need city government to be there, but when we're trying to make decisions, it's important for them to be a part of the process," Thompson said.

Thompson said the next step for the task force will be getting out to the county to see the areas that might make sense for housing development, along with connecting with the county's elected officials.

"We were going to do pop-up appointments and talk to (elected officials) about it and try to get them to come to the next meeting, because obviously those are the people who are going to approve or deny these buildings," Thompson said.

Thompson said the hope is for these pop-up appointments to encourage city officials from across the county to play a part in the task force's next meeting, which she said will hopefully take place in the near future.

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