I just received an email with the initial results of the planning efforts of the proposed Affordable Housing Trust Fund for St. Louis County. I am delighted to see the recommendations which made terrific sense. The group is led by Chris Krehmeyer of Beyond Housing and the Clark-Fox Foundation is providing important support. I am glad they see that moving to communities of opportunity is the most important factor in success. I hope this program can get implemented. Written by Paul Dribin
Planning is underway to bring to the voters of St. Louis County a plan to fund an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This is great news. Such a fund is greatly needed. Better yet, the effort is being led by Chris Krehmeyer, head of Beyond Housing and a great guy and terrific leader. The only downside is the unpopularity of County Executive Stenger who has endorsed the plan. Written by Paul Dribin
Mel Watt testified before Congress on FNMA, Freddie Mac reform. The most significant part of his testimony concerned the lack of overall housing and especially affordable units. He stated that construction has not kept pace with demand and that most new construction was at the high end of the spectrum. This has a great effect on the St. Louis region and the rest of the country. Written by Paul Dribin
a very eloquent article by chris Krehmeyer leader of Beyond Houding on the need for a fund such as that provided by the city. It
IT would be an important step forward in the path to improved affordable housing
Written by Paul Dribin
I have written previously about the City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Trust Fund. It is a fund that is derived from out of state taxes paid in St. Louis and supposed to be used for affordable housing efforts. For years money has been siphoned for other purposes.
The city has passed a sales tax for metro link expansion(which is an ill conceived idea). Half of the funds are to be used for other community based needs. Housing advocates are lobbying the city to use the funds to expand affordable housing efforts. I strongly agree with this effort and urge readers to lobby city officials in this regard. Written by Paul Dribin
Through the vision of longtime affordable housing advocate Janet Becker, the City of St. Louis has an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The fund is filled as a percentage of out of state real estate transfer taxes and varies each year. Much good work has been accomplished through the use of this fund, but there are at least 2 problems.
The first problem is that the city has skimmed money off the top for other purposes. That is clearly illegal, but no one has seen fit to challenge it. The statute was clearly passed with the intention of all the funds being used for affordable housing.
Second, like many organizations in Missouri, the decision making process involving the funds is murky. I know of a small non profit who was not funded, and the Executive Director of the fund would not discuss the reasons for non acceptance. This is a clear violation of administrative due process.
The St. Louis Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a great idea. It needs to make some changes to fully live up to its’ mission. Written by Paul Dribin
Low income housing tax credits are the primary source of construction and rehabilitation for affordable housing projects. The program has been around since the eighties and is an effort to get private sector involvement in the affordable housing development business. The program uses the equity generated from the sale of tax credits to create low debt on affordable housing projects, thereby supporting lower rents. (This is a vast oversimplification but sufficient for this discussion.)
The program has accomplished much but has significant limitations. It is neither efficient or effective. Let me explain.
The program is not efficient for two reasons. First it is excessively complicated, involving arcane aspects of tax law, legal issues, accounting etc. It is an extremely difficult program for a newcomer to enter. Second, and related, the administrative costs are extremely high. Too much of the money does not go directly to housing but lines the pockets of developers, consultants, syndicators, accountants, attorneys, etc.
Second, the program is relatively ineffective. It does not house the low income people who need it the most. Someone must be able to pay a decent rent to afford the program. Homeless or very low income people cannot participate.
Politically this is not the best time to address the need for a new affordable housing program but the community needs it. The National Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a start but its resources are limited for now. We need a simpler more efficient and effective affordable housing program.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch had a good article about the status of the City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This fund was voted on and approved by the voters of St. Louis about 15 years ago. The purpose of the fund is to construct, rehab, and preserve affordable housing. A hunk of the funds need to be used for persons at or below 50% of the area median income. It has served the community well and has contributed to neighborhood stabilization.
Mayor Slay and now Mayor Krewson have tapped into the fund for other purposes. While I am sympathetic to the financial needs of the city, the purpose for which the fund was established was for housing. I consider other uses to be illegal. Activists need to get on this issue.