About $837 million has been spent on construction in Joplin since the May 2011 tornado, including starts on more than 1,100 new homes, according to city building permit data.
The figures include construction done throughout the city and are based on building permit statistics released periodically by the city. The latest numbers were for April through July, The Joplin Globe reported.
City data showed the city issued building permits totaling $104.6 million for fiscal year 2013 up to July. That follows a total of $554.8 million in permits in fiscal 2012 and $192.4 million in fiscal 2011, the vast majority of which were issued after the May 22 tornado that year, which damaged a large section of the city and killed 161 people.
More than two-thirds of the building permits for new homes since the tornado were issued in the tornado zone. However, since November 2012, 151 permits for new homes were issued, a significant slowing of home construction compared with fiscal years 2011 and 2012. In fiscal 2011, 441 permits for new homes were issued, almost all of those after the tornado; in fiscal 2012, 552 permits were issued.
Crystal Harrington, head of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri, said initiatives such as the Joplin Housing Assistance Program, which will begin this fall, will improve home construction.
“These are middle-income grants for the down payment and closing costs on a house,” she said of the program, which she thought could help build 400 new homes. “If 20 percent down is needed to construct a home, these grants could amount to $20,000 to $30,000 each. This could help a family making $60,000 or less to build a brand new house.”
Of the total homes built, 73 were constructed by Habitat for Humanity, with 68 of those in the tornado zone. Rebuild Joplin has constructed 82 homes since the tornado, with about 60 in the tornado zone.
Doreen Finnie, with Rebuild Joplin, said the organization is checking as many homes as possible to determine the plans of those living in structurally damaged homes or those who own empty lots.
“Once we determine that, that’s when we will close our doors,” she said, adding that the priority is “those who were directly affected by the tornado.”