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The St Louis Contrarian

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

Archive for the tag “urban development”

Gentrification and Urban Development

Gentrification tends to have a negative connotation with urban development junkies. Their basic premise is that higher income people move into improving neighborhoods and drive out the indigenous peoples. I have read in recent publications gentrification referred to as fascist or even compared to the army driving native Americans off tribal lands. Yet isn’t it a good thing if young people with money are willing to move into previously dangerous neighborhoods? Would St. Louis be better off with more gentrification?

For St. Louis I would argue, bring on more gentrification, we don’t have enough of it. In what neighborhoods have development activities driven out previous residents? We actually have too little gentrification. As an ideal, development efforts must include providing affordable housing and rehab funds for existing low income residents. In reality, this is hard to do. A hot market ends up driving all activity and resources for development of affordable housing are scarce. Certainly a certain number of jobs should be set aside for neighborhood residents. If we waited for the ideal conditions to develop, there would never be any neighborhood development. Written by Paul Dribin

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Weird Things About City Development

Paul Krugman published an article in the New York Times which made sense. He argued that cities have not grown in a rational way because cities either allowed helter skelter development or engaged in NIMBY policies. Houston is an example of the former and San Francisco the latter. More publicity needs to be given to the discriminatory effects of exclusionary zoning in many communities.

Interesting St. Louis City seems to engage in both types of negative behavior. The city will give away the store to certain large developers but hound to death small developers with historic preservation requirements. A better balance is needed. Written by Paul Dribin

Richard Florida Now Pessimistic About Cities

Richard Florida has been quite the trendy guy in urban studies. His book about The Creative Class, captivated many people in urging that business developers, artists, techies, hipsters etc. are what cause vitality in city life. Cities all fell over themselves going after this crowd. Now he is concerned that once again city populations are declining. The number one cause of the problem?, crime.

This explanation makes sense to me. I always found Florida’s work interesting but simplistic. I glad he has come back to earth. Written by Paul Dribin

Investment in Children’s Services

Brookings published an article today by Bruce Katz and Ross Tilchin entitle Investing in the next generation: A bottom-up approach to creating better outcomes for children and youth. The article states quite simply that strong investment in these services are the key to improving the quality of city life moving forward. Attached is the article:

INTRODUCTION

The American dream is built on the promise of upward social mobility. In the middle of the 20th century, rates of upward mobility improved across the socioeconomic spectrum. But over the course of the past 30 years, the vast majority of our population has seen mobility rates stagnate.[1] For too many, the American dream has stalled. 

Authors

Bruce Katz

Centennial Scholar – Centennial Scholar Initiative

Twitter bruce_katz

R

Ross Tilchin

Senior Policy and Research Assistant

Restoring higher levels of social mobility will be among the most important political, social, and economic challenges of our time. Already, we’ve witnessed how frustration over this stagnation can destabilize our national institutions and divide our society. The longer we wait to address the issue, the more tumultuous our politics will become.

Making greater and more effective investments in children and youth will be the best way to improve social mobility throughout the nation. Research has demonstrated the positive long-term effects of providing a specific set of coordinated interventions from “cradle to career.”[2] Despite the conclusive evidence, our nation has been unable to provide those in need with access to the right kinds of services.

The time to act is now. The question is, who will lead the effort to expand these proven strategies? Over the past decade, it has become apparent that we cannot rely upon the federal government or the states. Washington and many state governments have been hijacked by partisanship, leading to paralysis on or hostility toward many of the policies and interventions necessary for improving outcomes for children and youth. The Trump administration’s May 2017 budget proposal called for nearly $10 billion in cuts to after-school funding, summer initiatives, teacher training, financial aid for lower-income students, and similar programs.[3]

The budgetary trend lines are also unmistakable. At the federal level, demographic realities are driving up spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This will place enormous pressure on Washington’s contributions to programs for children and youth, which are expected to decline over the next decade by 25 percent or more as a percentage of GDP.[4] As Eugene Steuerle notes in his 2014 book Dead Men Ruling, only 2 percent of the projected $1.5 trillion increase in federal spending over the next decade will go to children.[5] And while some state governments have demonstrated a steady commitment to improving outcomes for youth, many are providing less funding for children now than they were before the Great Recession.[6]

Related

Cities and refugees: The German experience

Getting attached: Parental attachment and child development

Localizing the economic impact of research and development

Fortunately, as higher levels of government have faltered, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas have stepped up. Local leaders have recognized that the issue of stagnant opportunity is far too urgent to wait for other levels of government to act. In communities across the country, leaders in local governments have joined forces with nonprofits, philanthropies, and businesses to increase the magnitude, quality, and coordination of cradle-to-career investments in the next generation.

These communities have realized that the existing composition of investments in young people, dominated by the safety net and the public education system, are not enough to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Technology and global competition have come to demand a higher degree of skills training than ever before, and many of the fastest growing demographic groups in our country face the steepest educational and developmental challenges. For local leaders, ensuring that children have access to meaningful opportunities is more than a social responsibility—it is an economic imperative for their communities.

Communities are therefore expanding programs that stretch well beyond the traditional set of public services provided to youth. They are investing in efforts like nurse visiting programs, early childhood education, supplemental academic and social curricula, after-school programs, and summer learning initiatives. They are tailoring interventions to align with their specific needs, coordinating across sectors and silos, and most importantly, drawing upon new sources of revenue to finance these efforts. 

Related Books

Upcoming The New Localism
By Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak
2017

Dream Hoarders
By Richard V. Reeves
2017

The Metropolitan Revolution
By Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley
2014

These locally driven approaches to investing in children and youth are a part of a larger national trend. Over the past decade or so, cities and metropolitan areas have risen to the forefront of national problem solving across a wide range of policy areas. Solutions to many of our toughest problems—mitigating the effects of

climate change, financing major infrastructure projects, creating more innovative economies, to name a few—are now being crafted at the local level.[7] In communities of all stripes, leaders in every sector have come together to solve local problems at a level of sophistication that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. As this self-sufficient and intensely networked style of local leadership has spread, it has given rise to a national movement—a New American Localism.

This paper provides an overview of the challenges associated with improving outcomes for children and youth, the intergovernmental obstacles that communities face as they expand supplemental cradle-to-career services, and the strategies individual communities have drawn upon to deliver better results for the next generation.

FOOTNOTES

1
David Leonhardt, “The American Dream, Quantified at Last,” New York Times, December 8, 2016.

2
Isabelle V. Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow, “How Much Could We Improve Children’s Life Chances by Intervening Early and Often?” Brookings Institution, March 2015.

3
Stephenie Johnson et al., “The Trump-DeVos Budget Would Dismantle Public Education, Hurting Vulnerable Kids, Working Families, and Teachers,” Center for American Progress, March 17, 2017.

4
Sara Edelstein  et al., “Kids Share 2016: Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2015 and Future Projections,” Urban Institute, 2016.

5
Eugene Steuerle, Dead Men Ruling: How to Restore Fiscal Freedom and Rescue Our Future (New York, NY: Century Foundation, 2014).

6
Michael Leachman  et al., “Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,” January 25, 2016.

7
Megan Greenwalt, “DC Water Authority Unveils WTE Project,” Waste 360, November 3, 2015; Meghan McCarty and Aaron Mendelson, “LA Says ‘Yes’ to Tax Increase for Transportation,” 89.3 KPCC, November 9, 2016; Bruce Katz and Julie Wagner, “What a City Needs to Foster Innovation,” Brookings Institution, January 16, 2014.

What Will Get Young People to St. Louis

I read an article last week touting Pittsburgh as the next great place to live. What would earn St. Louis that status?

Despite all my griping about St. Louis I know it is a great place to live. What are the key positive attributes?

1. A lot to do. Great cultural, sports, and dining opportunities. We are more in a league with Chicago rather than Omaha when it comes to cultural activities.

2. Affordable housing. The median housing price is much less than in most big cities. Young couple could get more for their dollar and save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime.

3. Easy to get around- This speaks for itself. You will not need to commute for hours to get to work or school.

4. Top institutions of higher education

Negatives

1. Crime

2. Racial intolerance- Businesses want an open and accepting work and cultural climate for their employees. St. Louis has a long way to go to achieve this goal.

3. A proliferation of small governments-Our system of governance is too expensive, inefficient, and fosters exclusion.

4. Climate-The weather is horrible in the summer and still cold in the winter. Spring and fall are great.

Almost everyone who visits St. Louis likes it. We should develop a program to bring recent college graduates or college senior to town for a weekend to sell them on settling here. We have a lot to offer, and most of the country is unaware of us. Written by Paul Dribin

State tax credits

The post had a good article yesterday about the issues surrounding state tax credits.   Nothing new was really covered. The credits are too expensive but they are the only tool for doing affordable housing. The article correctly demonstrated that investors will not participate in programs with high levels of uncertainty.   It also shows that development in St. Louis is very difficult and requires government supports. 

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 

Hope vi

Hope VI is a now discontinued public housing program that completely rehabilitated distressed public housing projects in this country.   The idea behind the program was to combine physical rehabilitation social services and create mixed income communities. I had the opportunity to work on the Darst Webbe program in the near south side.  That program has been successful in creating a mixed income community and has led to improvements in surrounding neighborhoods. 

Recent research has evaluated HOPE VI.  The program has not really transformed lives and it was noted that displaced public housing residents did not readily move back 

I believe the program has provided urban development benefits but has not significantly improved the lives of residents. The cost is quite high and demolition and new construction may have been cheaper. The jury is still out on mixed income housing. I have serious doubts that given a choice anyone would opt for this type of housing 

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

Used of CDBG Funds in St. Louis

The Community Development Block Grant is a program devised by HUD to provide flexible funds to community to meet broad based urban development needs. Cities of over 50,000 people receive the funds on a categorical basis based upon poverty etc. St. Louis is of course one of these cities receiving funds by formula. The use of the funds is to address community development, housing, economic development in a way that the local community plans. The city receives an allocation of millions of dollars a year. The amount has declined but is substantial.

The city has misused much of this funding. Instead of concentrating funding on the areas of greatest need, the funds are divided equally among the 28 wards. This of course waters down the effect and provides the aldermen a slush fund for pet projects, which may have nothing to do with broader priorities of the city. When I worked for the St.Louis Housing Authority we needed city wide targeting of block grant funds to get $28 million from HUD for the Darst-Webbe demolition and redevelopment. This commitment was tough to get. Funds have been used to over rehab houses in very poor locations, or to create non profits which accomplish little. HUD shares in the blame because they have lacked the courage to challenge the city on these policies. I intend to do some detailed reporting on this subject in the future.

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