Donnybrook tonight had a good discussion about the dismissal of Joe Regan as President of the Regional Chamber. The panelists comments were the same as mine, what does the organization accomplish, are the staff too highly paid, why do we need them. All good questions. Written by Paul Dribin
Community activists are outraged by TIFs , tax abatement, and other forms of development subsidies in St. Louis. There is justification for these beliefs. Another development subsidy which is more pervasive is more damaging. This takes place with the development of affordable housing where block grant funds are used to subsidize the difference between development costs and ultimate sale price of a house. Back when I worked on loan to the city I saw numerous examples of developments that cost $300,000 and sold for $100,000. Block grant funds were used to write down the development cost in the hope these properties would stimulate community development. They rarely did, but aldermen thought they would. Where is the accountability for this disaster of a policy. Worse these policies are still continuing today. Written by Paul Dribin
St. Louis was recently awarded a large new slug of New Market Tax Credits. These credits are intended to enhance development in underserved economic areas. This is good news. Attached is the article:
Microsoft plans to anchor a new office and lab building set to open in mid-2018 in the Cortex technology district.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday that the city of St. Louis’ lead economic development arm would receive a $35 million allocation of federal new markets tax credit authority.
The award is part of $3.5 billion in federal new markets tax credits authority allocated Tuesday to 73 organizations. The credits are designed to spur more investment in low-income and distressed areas by reducing the risk. Local organizations awarded the tax credits authority offer it to investors to attract them to projects in certain areas. Qualified investments are eligible for a 39 percent tax credit.
The St. Louis Development Corp., which aids developers and other economic development in the city, has received nine allocations of new markets tax credits totaling $418 million since 2004. It received $75 million in new market tax credit authority in late 2016, which combined the 2015 and 2016 allocations. In the 2014 round, it received $45 million.
“This is fantastic news for the City of St. Louis,” Otis Williams, SLDC’s executive director, said in a statement Tuesday. “New Markets Tax Credits have been a tremendous tool for us as we seek to redevelop and strengthen the City’s low-income neighborhoods.”
Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp., in a portrait on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in downtown St. Louis. St. Louis Development Corp. was awarded $45 million in New Markets Tax Credits. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford firstname.lastname@example.org
Another local entity winning an allocation this year was U.S. Bank’s community development corporate entity, USBCDE, which was awarded a $70 million allocation. The U.S. Bank Community Development Corp. is based in downtown St. Louis. USBCDE invests in projects around the country, not just St. Louis.
Demand should be high for the latest round of credits, said Matt Philpott, who heads the new markets tax credit program at USBCDE.
“I would expect of this new round of award … most of that will get used in 2018,” he said.
The credits have been used to fund multiple developments in St. Louis, including the restoration of the Central Library downtown, the headquarters for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri in Grand Center, the Cortex tech district’s new office building for Microsoft and the ongoing International Shoe building restoration on Washington Avenue.
The credits were in danger of being killed in the original U.S. House version of the federal tax overhaul. But the Senate’s tax cut bill retained the credits for the next two years at existing levels. Philpott said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., helped keep the credits alive in the tax legislation.
I am constantly frustrated by the silly priorities of our region and the things we try to put effort into. The City of St. Louis is the murder capital of the country. Indeed some neighborhoods have a murder rate as high as the most dangerous third world countries. We have a huge amount of poverty, poor infrastructure, failing schools, poor public health, and a net loss of population. Our race relations are the joke of the country.
Instead of focusing on these issues we are concerned about Metrolink expansion, soccer stadiums, trolleys, and horse drawn carriages. Our government is hugely fragmented and dysfunctional. It’s no wonder we have problems. Written by Paul Dribin
I just read an article posted by Alderman Cara Spencer on facebook regarding the City of St. Louis financial position. The article quoted is entitled Team TIF St. Louis.
The gist of the article is that the city’s financial picture is dire and that TIF’s are the cause. As I have said previously, development subsidies are overdone in St. Louis mostly when used for projects that don’t further economic development. The analysis of TIFs is overly simplistic for the following reasons:
1. It is not really a debt. They are deferred funds that will eventually go to the city which are now going to developments.
2. Without the TIF nothing would have happened. It is not as if there would be a lesser project, there would be no project at all.
3. St. Louis is between a rock and a hard place. It is declining economically, riddled with crime and high taxes, and needs incentives to prime the pump. The real question is whether things will ever take off. Written by Paul Dribin
Here is an article copied from Why Housing Matters. It is a very comprehensive statement of the importance of housing to other endeavors such as health and education. It is well worth taking a look at. The data was originally gathered by the MacArthur Foundation. Written by Paul Drib in
Why Educators, Health Professionals, and Others Focused on Economic Mobility Should Care about Housing
November 30, 2017
Cities striving to improve residents’ lives often focus on such issues as schools, parks, jobs, or health. Often overlooked is something equally fundamental. Trace the lineage of many social welfare issues, and you will likely uncover a history of substandard, unaffordable housing. Research increasingly shows that safe and affordable housing in strong and thriving neighborhoods is a launching pad to upward mobility for families.
For more than a decade, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has supported research on the role of housing as a platform for opportunity among families. The following summary of findings from more than 20 studies shows that housing shapes our lives in critical and long-lasting ways. Through this and other work, our understanding has expanded, providing greater nuance and insight into the pathways through which housing makes a difference in people’s lives and in communities. These pathways include housing stability, affordability, quality, and location.
The findings are organized for educators, health professionals, and economic development experts who regularly see the direct impact of poor-quality, unaffordable housing but who may not realize housing’s role in those outcomes.
Why educators should care about housing
Safe, stable, and affordable housing during childhood sets the stage for success in school. Children are profoundly affected by their environments during key developmental stages. Chaos in their neighborhood, frequent moves, exposure to pollutants, and unhealthy conditions leave a deep and lasting imprint. When housing consumes too much of a household’s budget, kids may not have enough nutritious food to eat to be ready to learn. Teachers see the ramifications of these conditions in the classroom.
MacArthur Foundation-supported research shows the following:
1 Adolescents living in poor-quality housing have lower math and reading scores and lower math skills in standardized achievement tests, even after adjusting for parenting and other factors.
2 Among young children in high-poverty neighborhoods, substandard housing is the strongest predictor among several housing-related conditions of behavioral or emotional problems.
3 Improving housing stability has long-term benefits for children. Any residential move during childhood is associated with a nearly half-a-year loss in school. Each additional move is associated with small declines in social skills. A majority of US children move at least once during childhood, and a sizable group moves three or more times. The negative effects, however, fade with time.
4 Moving three or more times in childhood is associated with lower earnings, fewer work hours, and less educational attainment later in life.
5 Between ages 6 and 10 is a particularly sensitive time to move. At that age, any move, voluntary or not, is linked to lower educational attainment and lower earnings later in life. (See here for results at other ages.)
6 Families who spend 30 percent of their household income on rent spend more on child enrichment than those who spend either more or less than that on rent.
7 Homelessness is linked to behavioral problems in children, though it is relatively rare and often a one-time experience.
8 Too few families can move to high-performing neighborhood schools, even with housing vouchers to help with rent. One-third of public housing families and one-fourth of families using housing vouchers live near schools that are ranked in the bottom 10th in their state.
9 The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) does better than housing vouchers in placing families near high-performing schools, though the LIHTC serves slightly better–off families.
Why health care professionals should care about housing
Both neighborhood and health disparities are stark in the United States. One’s zip code is as important as one’s genetic code in determining health status or life expectancy. The disparities are linked because where you live offers access to what makes you healthy or unhealthy, from housing without lead or asthma triggers to grocery stores with fresh vegetables, to parks and sidewalks, and access to jobs. Physicians, nurses, and public health experts recognize this, and they are doing more to ensure that the residents they serve live in homes and neighborhoods that promote their health and well-being.
MacArthur Foundation-supported research shows the following:
2 Housing affects mothers’ health. Poor housing conditions and overcrowding (even just perceived overcrowding) are associated with more depression and hostility among Latino mothers in the Bronx.
3 Moving to low-poverty neighborhoods can improve physical and mental health for adults, including decreased diabetes and obesity.
4 Neighborhood pollution has clear health consequences. Reducing prenatal exposure to pollutants from traffic congestion alone could mean 8,600 fewer preterm births annually, for an annual savings of at least $444 million.
5 Among Latinos living in public housing in the Bronx, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is significantly higher than for either Section 8 voucher holders or low-income Latinos in general. Nationwide, public housing residents tend to live in poorer neighborhoods than do voucher holders.
6 Neighborhood social cohesion reduces the risk of depression or hostility among low-income Latinos in New York City.
7 About 10 percent of low-income children in a nationally representative survey of urban families were homeless at one point in their childhoods. These children relied more on emergency rooms for health care and had more behavioral problems.
8 Housing for homeless families and rental assistance for food-insecure families improves health outcomes of vulnerable children and lowers health care spending.
Why people focused on ensuring greater economic security and mobility should care about housing
Housing is a launching pad to successful lives. High-quality housing in strong neighborhoods positions residents to capitalize on opportunities. And investing in communities reaps benefits beyond the neighborhood in lower social, health, and economic costs for the city and region. Cities nationwide are working to reverse entrenched poverty and providing needed opportunities for all residents. The findings below demonstrate the connection between housing, neighborhood, and upward mobility.
MacArthur Foundation-supported research shows the following:
1 Improving neighborhood social cohesion and access to jobs and reducing environmental hazards have a strong effect on health, earnings, and well-being.
2 Housing affordability and stability encourage work. Families using housing vouchers were working more consistently after five years than similar low-income families without vouchers.
3 Policies that focus on moving families to better neighborhoods are not enough to address every problem related to poverty. Families need additional supports to overcome their circumstances.
4 Siblings who lived in public housing as teenagers fared better than their siblings who spent less time in public housing. They earned more as young adults and were less likely to be incarcerated. More room in family budgets to invest in children may be one reason for the better results.
5 Improving housing stability for children has long-term benefits. Moving three or more times in childhood—especially between ages 6 and 10—lowered later earnings nearly 52 percent.
7 Racial segregation and a tight rental market constrain housing choice for low-income families and may be one reason voucher holders live near lower-performing schools.
8 Inclusionary zoning policies expand access to more economically diverse neighborhoods and better-performing schools, though inclusionary zoning is only a small slice of the affordable housing pie.
9 For low-income seniors, reverse mortgages can be a lifeline. The most effective strategy to reduce default rates is escrowing funds for property tax and insurance payments for borrowers with low FICO credit scores.
These findings underscore the need to invest in healthy, affordable housing for all Americans. Opportunities are shaped by a person’s housing, neighborhood, and environment. Policies that address housing and neighborhood’s role in creating and sustaining opportunities or disadvantage may be one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and promote upward economic mobility.
This article was originally published on the MacArthur Foundation’s website, and has been reproduced in a modestly modified form with permission from the Foundation.
Some of the recent controversies in the city, including support for the Blues Hockey Club and development subsidies are tied to a basic problem in St. Louis, the aldermanic system. The city has 28 wards geographically divided. These are the same number of wards for a city of about 320,000 as for when the city included 1,000,000 residents. Worse yet, the aldermen act as little dictators of their own turf and make all development decisions and pretty much approve all city spending in their fiefdoms.
HUD provides Community Development Block grant funds to the city. Every year the city takes those funds, which are intended to be used in the areas of greatest need and divides them 28 ways. Many aldermen have their own development groups rather than partnering with larger organizations.
It is no wonder so little gets accomplished in the city when you combine this system with the archaic further divisions with the Mayor and Comptroller. It is no wonder that an organization like the Blues does not get a clear signal of who is in charge. It is no wonder that St. Louis lags economically behind other cities. Written by Paul Dribin
I just read an article which states the obvious, high end workers will move to places such as San Francisco or Boston to take advantage of the higher paying jobs. Regular people, both professional and blue collar cannot make that move due to the extremely high cost of housing in those locations.
St. Louis needs to figure out a way to harness our pluses; an affordable cost of living and world class cultural attractions. I think that is a big deal. I would even suggest flying recent college graduates here for a weekend to show them our pluses. Pittsburgh is an example of a city I considered to be much like St. Louis that repositioned itself as a trendy place.
The big negative in St. Louis is the crime situation. Virtually everyone except civil rights activists feel it is the number one problem facing the city. Few people seem willing to acknowledge this issue. Written by Paul Dribin
I usually don’t get into politics, but my first public administration class pointed out you can’t separate politics from policy. Elliot Davis of You Paid for It Fame on tv wrote a passionate facebook post in which he postured that Mayor Krewson the first woman mayor of St. Louis is not up for the job. He provided a number of good examples.
Unfortunately, I would have to agree with Elliot. She seems like a nice person but is just going through the motions of being mayor. She has not leadership skills. If I was a police officer or member of an officer’s family, I would have been outraged after her comments making nice to the demonstrators and indirectly criticizing the police. She has done nothing substantive to address crime, job loss, or racial inequality. The Mayor likes to have feel good meetings and is using that process to take 9 months to hire a police chief. I also think the effort to lure Amazon here is a waste of time and money. Written by Paul Dribin