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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “demolition”

The Rehabbers Who Saved Lafayette Square | Feature | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events | Riverfront Times

50 years ago, when most of St. Louis wrote off the neighborhood, a band of DIY risk-takers dared to bet on its future
— Read on www.riverfronttimes.com/stlouis/lafayette-square/Content

An excellent article about the pioneers who rehabbed Lafayette Square

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Post Editorial about Potential Demolition of Public Housing Units in Wollstonecraft

www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-housing-authority-choice-pits-social-justice-against-demolition-expediency/article_d9e8d89e-f5a0-5899-85c5-d6ddcc8aa258.html

I don’t see any sense in rebuilding these horrible units. There needs to be sufficient funding to build new

Plans move ahead to terminate Wellston Housing Authority and Demolish Propertulues

www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/housing-the-poor-in-poor-housing-for-so-long-leaves/article_e65a764f-cae7-5285-b218-dacf75a30c25.html

This is a very tough issue. The Wellston Housing Authority was corrupt and ran these properties into the ground. The tenants are very poor and have little housing choice. Hud has not provided adequate resources. Written by Paul Dribin

McKee problems continue

www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/still-stuck-with-paul-mckee-st-louis-officials-pledge-to/article_b094fe94-42f8-5398-a032-258d646850ae.html

I was a big believer in him and have always like him. A big part of his problem is that he played city politics poorly

Ideas About Housing -Too Much Democracy is Bad

Urban Planners talk about the need for community involvement in neighborhood development. That is good. Similarly, public housing residents need to have their ideas included in planning for the future of their developments. Yet, in St. Louis I sometimes think democracy has gone overboard. It seems that everyone no matter how wacky their idea has an equal say in the future of our communities. I certainly see that problem in the failure of the McKee effort to redevelop north St. Louis. People get worn out and nickel and dimed.

My first job with HUD was to insure and improve tenant participation in public housing. In all, participation tended to be low. Poor people participate less in public life less than wealthier people, that is partially why they are poor. More important, they simply lack the time for civic involvement.

A concrete example. The Darst-Webbe Hope VI redevelop[ment required tenant involvement. The remaining few tenants in the failed original project refused to be supportive of a complete demolition and redevelopment. Why? They were selling drugs and didn’t want that activity disrupted. It has always puzzled me why tenants of public housing appear to have more say in the running of their project than other properties. All political theorists have agreed that direct democracy is a poor form of government. They are right. Written by Paul Dribin

This article talks around the vacancy issue

www.stltoday.com/opinion/columnists/st-louis-has-a-plan-for-vacancy/article_039ec2ca-751d-5451-b039-f6f60baa239d.html

what is a chief resiliency officer?

Vacancies in St. Louis

As you may know, there has been a collaborative formed to address the huge vacancy problem in St. Louis. Various task forces are meeting and I participate in two of them. Most of the people at the meetings appear to be community activists with a smattering of developers.

The discussions have generally been good but rather general in nature. We do not seem to want to address the key problems which I see as:

1. Outmoded methods of management and sales by LRA.

2. The higher cost of doing business in St. Louis.

3. Historical preservation

4. Crime

5. The overall oversupply of housing and undersupply of population in the region.

6. The unwillingness of the group to accept demolition.

Written by Paul Dribin

Deconstruction

I am not writing about the obtuse literary theory known as deconstruction. Instead, I am writing about a redevelopment tool St. Louis is experimenting with using in lieu of demolition. In the case of deconstruction, a qualified contractor takes apart and in some case refurbishes construction material from vacant houses. The idea is to have these materials reused by contractors, home builders, etc. It is a good idea that warrants attention. It is not a large scale program that will eliminate the need for demolition, but it will help. written by Paul Dribin

Vacancy Taskforce

Today I attended a meeting of the Preventing Vacancy Sub committee of the Vacancy Taskforce. There were about a dozen people present, mostly community people. Good people but nobody has a clue what to do. I asked the question of why there were vacancies; no one could answer. I am not optimistic. Written by Paul Dribin

HOPE VI Did Not Meet Expectations?

HOPE VI was a HUD program to totally revamp public housing projects with a mixture of public, affordable, market rate housing, economic development, and social programs. The idea was to revitalize communities, offer a better living environment for tenants, and improve outcomes for low income individuals. An article now shows that far fewer housing units were actually completed under HOPE VI than announced. This is probably not surprising since actual financing and construction will bring more accurate results. My concern is that the program spent billions of dollars and did not achieve the results I described above. I worked on the Darst Webbe HOPE VI project here in St. Louis. It razed some bad public housing and significantly reduced crime in the surrounding neighborhoods. I doubt it had any important effects on the public housing residents and has not resulted in significant mixed income housing. Written by Paul Dribin. Attached is the article.

2018

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Study Finds “Selective Memory Planning” by HUD in the HOPE VI Program

A study published in Housing Policy Debate, “Broken Promises or Selective Memory Planning? A National Picture of HOPE VI Plans and Realities” by Lawrence Vale, Shomon Shamsuddin, and Nicholas Kelly finds that significantly fewer housing units, particularly market-rate rental and homeownership units, were developed in HOPE VI projects than were initially announced in HOPE VI award announcements. The study contends that HUD’s monitoring of HOPE VI represented “selective memory planning,” in which policy-makers ignore or erase the memory of initial plans and goals in favor of new plans and goals that are more likely to be achieved.

“Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere” (HOPE VI) was a HUD program to redevelop distressed public housing into mixed income communities with a combination of public, affordable, and market-rate housing for both renters and owners. The study’s authors compared the number of units, unit-type mix, and tenure initially announced in HOPE VI award announcements with estimates later entered into HUD’s administrative system for tracking projects’ progress based on revised plans. They also compared the award announcements with actual housing units completed. The authors conducted interviews with HUD staff to gain insight into their decisions.

The projected number of units in HUD award announcements was 11,600 higher than the revised counts eventually entered into HUD’s administrative system for program tracking. The revised estimates were 10% lower than the proposed units initially announced. The revised estimates of expected market-rate units were 29% lower and the revised estimates of expected homeownership units were 40% lower than the initial award announcements. This finding suggests that public housing agencies (PHAs) found market-rate housing and homeownership more difficult to achieve in HOPE VI projects than initially expected.

If a developer had to lower the expected number of housing units or change the unit-type and tenure mix after an award announcement, the new numbers were recorded in HUD’s administrative system. The system did not record the numbers initially proposed in the award announcement. The result is that it may appear a HOPE VI project produced the proposed number of units, unit-type mix, and tenure when the final outcome was less than what was promised in the initial award announcement.

The authors note that, on the other hand, it is reasonable that expected outcomes expressed in award announcements would change as the PHAs would often put projects out to bid to developers and complete financing after the award was announced. Most housing professionals understand that initial project proposals often change before construction begins because of development complexities. Expectations change as knowledge or circumstances change. On the other hand, residents may not understand this and see award announcements as promises to them and their communities.

HUD essentially “forgot” its initial award announcements, the authors contend. The report suggests that by engaging in selective memory planning, HUD prioritized its accountability to Congress and developers over its accountability to communities by comparing outcomes to revised expectations rather than comparing outcomes to the promises made to the community in the initial announcements.

“Broken Promises or Selective Memory Planning? A National Picture of HOPE VI Plans and Realities

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