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story.lead_photo.caption On a sunny Thursday morning, Capital City Apartments looks shiny and new after several renovations to a few of its buildings to repair damage done by the May 2019 tornado. Progress on the renovations across several low-income housing properties has been slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused renovation delays at one low-income housing property in Jefferson City while potentially stopping people from moving in to another.

Two properties owned by the Jefferson City Housing Authority recently underwent renovations — one more planned than the other.

Capital City Apartments on Elm Street was hit by the May 2019 tornado, causing significant damage to many of the 44 units in the complex.

All five of the units in the 526 E. Elm St. building had to be rebuilt, and other units received minor damage like broken windows that caused them to be uninhabitable.

Work on some units has included replacing siding and windows and repairing damaged interiors.

The building at 522 E. Elm St. flooded in February, creating more necessary renovations. Luckily, the complex was one of the only Housing Authority buildings that avoided a late March hail storm.

While final stages of renovations started last fall, progress this year has been delayed due to the pandemic, Housing Authority Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch said.

In April, work was delayed because the project's Illinois-based general contractor wasn't able to travel to Jefferson City for some time.

"There's still work to do be done, but we're very close," Quetsch said. "It's what they call a 'punch list.' The contractor says they're done, and then we go in and look and make sure everything that needed to be done is done. We're finding stuff, so they're finishing that up."

As of Wednesday, 22 of the 44 units at Capital City Apartments were still vacant. As soon as an apartment is close to completion, the property manager starts work to get the next person on the waiting list into the unit, Quetsch said.

Over on Jackson Street, another Housing Authority property is having a different problem because of the pandemic.

The Housing Authority recently completed renovations in Dulle Tower at 10 Jackson St., including sewer line work and kitchen renovations. Due to the work, the units were vacated.

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Now that work is complete, there are about 30 units still empty, with no one on the waiting list and not many people applying.

"It was very hard to get people to come in during the early part of the pandemic, and now people are a little more willing to venture forth, but they're not coming as fast as we'd hope," Quetsch said. "We've never had problems renting them in the past."

All of the apartments are one-bedroom, although some are larger than others. "Efficiency" apartments are smaller at 331 square feet and don't have a separate living space. Regular one-bedroom apartments are 462 square feet and have a separate bedroom and living space.

There are also a few former efficiency apartments that are now one-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments.

Dulle Tower is low-income housing limited to seniors over age 50 or individuals with a disability. Prospective tenants are required to pass a background check, which Quetsch said can sometimes stop people from moving in.

At all low-income properties, rent is based on 30 percent of a tenant's income and includes utilities.

Quetsch said the Housing Authority is trying to spread the word about the available units and provide them to people who need them. A representative from the Housing Authority attends meetings of the United Way's Unmet Needs Committee, and they keep in contact with The Salvation Army's shelter.

However, more families seem to be in need recently, and the one-bedroom Dulle Tower units are too small, Quetsch said.

If necessary, the Housing Authority could request a waiver of the tenant requirements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, if they could prove they were unable to fill the units.

For more information about Dulle Tower and to apply, visit the Housing Authority website at jchamo.org or call the property manager at 573-635-4020.

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