The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the month “August, 2020”

A Better Approach to Help Low Income People Meet Housing Needs

For years various programs from public housing, section 8, HOME, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs have provided funding or tax incentives to developers to construct or rehabilitate affordable housing. The problem with this approach is several. First the cost of construction is high and most of the benefit of these expenditures go to developers, attorneys, syndicator etc. Second, some of the programs, LIHTC in particular do not house the people who need it the most, very low income people. Third, most of the locations of these properties are in low income communities that do not afford the tenants the opportunities of good schools and safe neighborhoods. Fourth, efforts to construct this type of housing in higher end suburbs results in extreme resistance and political opposition. NIMBYism is alive and well. Finally, low income housing has stabilized the lives of many low income people but has not moved them out of poverty.

A better approach would be to give low income people cash grants which they can use for housing or anything else. This approach has the advantage of being both efficient and effective. The tenant can live where he or she wants and can spend as much money on housing as they can afford. It would eliminate the NIMBY issue because there would not be a program label attached. Also, research shows cash grants such as social security, and the earned income tax credit have transferred millions of people out of poverty. The cash transfer if provided universally would inspire the construction of new housing. The HUD/FHA multifamily programs could be simplified and improved as financing tools for construction. Written by Paul Dribin


A Strong Project for South St Louis

Another sign the rental market is strong

John Thompson

I was saddened to hear of the death of Coach Thompson. He was a brilliant relentless man who wanted the best for his players on and off the court. He also did a great job as a broadcaster. Paul Dribin

Jeffferson County Rescinds Mask Ordinance

Much to my surprise Jefferson County passed an ordinance requiring masks of anyone 5 years or older. Yesterday the ordinance was rescinded for procedural reasons regarding proper notice. I hope the ordinance is eventually enacted. Written by Paul Dribin

A Great Idea to Make Rental Housing More Affordable

The City of Cincinnati is proposing an alternative to security deposits which often cause low income tenants to not afford rental housing. The program requires an alternative such as paying a small amount each month, or taking insurance to cover it. This process seems to protect both tenants and landlords. We should try it in St Louis. Written by Paul Dribin

Election Rant

This is a little off subject or not. I was very disturbed by a recent CBS poll which showed the great division in our country. Registered Republicans felt that the country was going great, things were better than 4 years ago, Trump had handled the Coronavirus well, and racial disharmony was exaggerated. I guess this is the power of Fox News which presents an alternate reality. Written by Paul Dribin

Coronavirus Misinformation

I am appalled as are many people by the latest misinformation coming from the CDC. They said that people who were exposed to covid but asymptomatic did not need to get tested. This flies in the face of all medical evidence and common sense. I am sure this change came from Trump who wants to keep testing down due to some perverted idea that will lower the number of coronavirus cases. Written by Paul Dribin

Is Justine Petersen Ripping People Off?

Justine Petersen is a micro lender non profit specializing in making loans to unbanked individuals who tend to be mostly people of color. On many of their loans they charge a 10.5% interest rate where the market rate is less than 1% for a business loan. Is this fair? Even granting that their loan pool is significantly higher risk than a bank’s charging 10 times the interest is way out of line. Is anyone interested in this? Are they taking advantage of poor people? Written by Paul Dribin

Good Article About Eliminating Single Family Zoning in Minneapolis

This appeared to be a promising move, eliminating single family housing, thereby making denser housing more possible. The author argues that bringing racial politics into the mix could ruin the movement. Paul Dribin

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