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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the category “homeownership”

One Way in Which St. Louis is Like California

California has just passed new legislation for creating more affordable housing. It is a drop in the bucket of what is needed but a good start. The reasons for the California housing crisis are many. An overheated economy and lack of supply help explain the problem. The lack of supply is predominantly due to restrictions on height and density, and extremely involved zoning laws restricting multifamily development.

St. Louis does not have an overheated economy but still suffers from unnecessary restrictions. I point to the historic preservation requirements in the City of St. Louis as a significant barrier to affordable housing. The suburbs have zoning laws which require low density and policies against the development of multifamily housing. Changes in zoning and land use will not alone create the conditions for affordable housing but it certainly would help. Written by Paul Dribin

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A Plan for Vacant Units in St. Louis

Since moving to St. Louis almost 22 years ago, I have been taken with the number of vacant buildings in the city and the seeming resistance to doing anything about them. Now St. Louis is embroiled in a legal battle to do something about them. In a recent election Proposition NS received 57% of the votes in the city. The Board of Elections ruled that the measure had failed because 67% of the vote is required for a proposal such as this. The city has a lawsuit going over the issue, contending that the state law only requires a 50% majority and that law should prevail. I wish the city luck in this endeavor. In the past on other issues such as minimum wage they have argued that home rule prevails. We shall see. Written by Paul Dribin

Homeownership Tax Deduction

I hate to ever agree with the Trump administration but here goes. They are in favor of limiting the homeownership tax deduction to $500,000 annually. This is a good start. This deduction mostly favors wealthier people. Furthermore research has shown it does not stimulate the purchase of housing but drives up the price. Another largely white upper middle class entitlement. Written by Paul Dribin

DeSales Community DevelopmentĀ 

Kudos to this organization. This organization led by TomPickel has been around since the mid seventies. They have accomplished major housing and redevelopment work in the Fox spark and Tower Grove East neighborhoods of St Louis. They have rehabbed houses provided property management and health services.   Written by Paul Dribin. 

Racial Homeownership Rate

The St. Louis Post Dispatch published an interesting article yesterday about the disparity in homeownership between African Americans and whites. The gap in St. Louis is about 29% with white people owning more homes. This gap increased as a result of the 2008 recession.

Nothing in this story is surprising to me. Homeownership rates are a sign of economic well being; unfortunately African Americans are not as solid economically as whites for the same reason there are other gaps. St. Louis saw a bigger disparity arise out of the recession. This is also not surprising because due to racism, segregation, and similar factors African Americans are forced to live a more marginal existence in St. Louis. More inner city neighborhoods, where blacks disproportionately buy are more likely to see a loss of value in a recession, and slower increases in good times.

St. Louis North Side Development

The plans for St. Louis North Side Development have been ongoing for some time. Paul McGee is the developer behind the project that has created its’ share of controversy. Mr. McGee has purchased a number of properties on the north side in support of this project. Some of these properties have not been well maintained. Other concerns have surfaced about the lack of citizen participation in the process etc.

The Post-Dispatch today published a story that indicated more tax credits have been granted. It seems this project is taking forever to actually get off the ground. What complicates things more is that the federal Geospatial Project is an important part of the Northside Redevelopment project. This Geospatial Project is extremely important to St Louis, generating jobs and neighborhood development.

I am a fan of Paul McGee, because I have spent time with him and shared his vision. He is interested in transformation for communities and could certainly have spent his money on easier projects. It would be nice to see something actually happen on the northside. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis as a Place to Live

I have a very good perspective on St Louis having grown up in Chicago and living here for 21 years.  In spite of itself, St Louis is a great place to live.   The culture and restaurants are first class. It is a great sports town and housing is quite affordable. You can get anywhere fairly quickly.  

Why have things not taken off here. There are several reasons 

1.  Racism.  Most of the other problems, crime, education, jobs, and dysfunctional government come from or racist traditions 

2.  Crime.  People around the country hear about crime in St. Louis and don’t want to move here.

3.  Education.  Many school systems are still a mess 

4. Cronyism. By cronyism I mean the strong tendency of people from St. Louis to pick there high school friends for key jobs and not consider outsiders. 

5. Dysfunctional government. This speaks for itself and is related to the other problems. 

We know what it takes to correct these issues. We have had lots of studies. Do we have the leadership and political will to make the changes?   Written. By Paul Dribin 

Beyond Housing

In writing about great organizations in St Louis Beyond Housing is probably the best. They have been in business for years and fully realize that community development must be comprehensive and is hard work. 

They are focused on Pagedale  and the Normandy School District. Their projects include housing development and rehab,homeownership training, foreclosure prevention,and economic development. They have brought a movie theatre, grocery store, and bank  to the area. They have created the 24:1 imitative which is bringing the smaller communities together to meet common goals.

Their leader is Chris Krehmeyer a talented, passionate, and caring individual. I am proud of their work

Urban Homesteading

I wanted to write again about Urban Homesteading, a program which I believe would be transformative for St. Louis and other communities. My previous work with this program in Milwaukee inspires my vision.

St. Louis has lots of vacant boarded houses in city possession. Urban Homesteading would allow for the transfer of these houses to individuals and families who agree to live in the houses and rehabilitate them to code. Title would transfer to the homesteader after successful completion of the rehabilitation. Some important caveats:

1. The rehab would need to be completed by professional contractors approved by the city. Sweat equity does not work in these situations.

2. The families selected for the program must be working and pass a screening. This will not work for people with significant social problems.

3. The properties must be carefully selected. They should be as close together as possible, and in a condition that allows for rehab.

St. Louis is working hard to attract young people to the city. This program can significantly help that effort.

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