The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the tag “affordable housing”

The Need for Affordable Housing

Great article from Post Dispatch

St. Louis authorizes the Use of Community Development Block Grants to help Coronavirus Victims

This is a good use of funds. People who lost jobs could end up homeless

Preservation Square Project

McCormack/Barron/Salazar has been attempting to demolish portions of this existing project formerly known as Ofallon Place for some time. The project which is large, about 550 units will consist of some demolition, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. For some reason, Alderman Hubbard has been trying to hold the project up. I am not always a fan of McCormack etc. but this project is desperately needed to replace an obsolete, overcrowded facility. The Alderman’s action smack of wanting a handout or bribe. What is most weird is that her family control the tenant group at the project. Written by Paul Dribin

Affordable Energy Efficent Housing Slowly Being Built in North St Louis

Good article by Tony Messenger about a determined housing developer. Paul dribin

Ending Homelessness and Improving Health Care at Once

This seems to be too good to be true but is real. Experiments around the country and most recently in St. Louis conclude the same thing, that housing and supportive services for homeless people not only improves their housing situation but their health.

An experimental program started by Barnes Jewish Christian Hospital and St. Patricks Center has demonstrated the point. The BJC staff had found that a relatively small number of homeless people were significantly overusing their facilities and running up huge unreimbursed health care bills. BJC contracted with St Patricks Center to provide affordable supportive housing and wrap around services. The results have been fantastic. The clients significantly reduced their emergency room usage, thereby showing significant drops in health care costs. Furthermore, the formerly homeless people were housed properly and affordable, and had access to good healthcare and jobs. A true win win situation. Let’s replicate it all over the country. Written by Paul Dribin(I played a leadership role in bringing the parties together and getting the program started)

Everyday Racism in Neighborhoods and the Housing Market

Let me give you an example of systemic racism and classism that impacts most of us and for which many liberals and people of goodwill are responsible. That would be suburban zoning.

Our suburbs are generally zoned to make denser and multifamily housing more difficult to enact. Land is the biggest costs in most real estate transactions, the more units you can build on a given piece of land, the cheaper the cost of housing. Most suburban communities have zoning and land use laws that require large minimum lots sizes, set backs, sidewalks, yards, etc. This zoning which meets an antiquated aesthetic keeps housing more expensive than it needs to be which mostly negatively affects people of color and lower income households. Similarly, restrictions on manufactured and other less expensive forms of housing also hurt these groups. Communities should be willing to undertake significant changes to zoning laws to allow denser more affordable housing. Anything less is a perpetuation of racism.

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

Emergency Housing Funds Requested in St. Louis

Mayor Lyda Krewson has requested a significant amount of funds to help struggling renters and homeowners in the city who have been hurt by the coronavirus. This is a necessary and important move. Written by Paul Dribin

Principle 1 of Urban Development

I will be writing a series of relatively short articles on urban development based upon my long career in the field. Principle 1-Don’t Romanticize Poor People

This is an issue I see all the time from white liberals. They think being poor is noble and that poor people are never at fault and always victimized. I go back to what the great writer David Brooks wrote on the subject. He wrote that conservatives believe that poverty and social ills are always caused by the individuals involved. Progressives believe that these problems are the results of racism and societal disorder. The reality is somewhere in the middle, there is tremendous systemic REAC is I’m and oppression, but at the same time most people have overcome this, and given individuals make personal decisions that make their personal lives much worse. The major difference for poor people is they have little or no margin for error.

Urban development programs whether housing or other must build in incentives for people who exercise individual responsibility get rewarded. Maybe a fund for students to attend college or trade school, or other funds that enhance salaries so working people can earn a decent income. Just remember, romanticizing someone is a sure form of stereotype and prejudice. Written by Paul Dribin

Booker Proposes Rental Tax Credit

How will he pay for it. Also his program does not have income restrictions. Credit should only be for low and moderate income households

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