Take the fact that the City of St. Louis is undergoing an unprecedented renaissance: And, the worst news is that — until recently the region’s combined efforts to end chronic homelessness — the most extreme sort of housing problem have been desultory.
I believe that all families, regardless of their income, deserve decent housing. That’s why I’ve set a goal of ending chronic homelessness in the next 10 years — and why I’ve put the City’s Affordable Housing Commission at the center of the effort.
The City is the only local government in the state of Missouri with an affordable housing trust fund. The trust fund is generated from the city’s use tax, a kind of sales tax on out-of-state purchases, paid mostly by businesses and corporations.
The trust fund allows the City to create affordable housing, stabilize neighborhoods, help promote city living, and help transition homeless people from a life on the street to permanent housing.
Since 2003, the Affordable Housing Commission has allocated more than $20 million for the construction of affordable new and rehabilitated rental units; for new and rehabbed single family homes; and for services for the homeless and the prevention of homelessness. The Commission has also strongly supported transitional housing programs.
The Commission does its work through a variety of developers and through agencies like St. Patrick Center. More than half of last year’s funding supported affordable housing for senior citizens and homelessness prevention and service programs. The Commission does not directly assist individuals.
The partnership with St. Patrick Center is illustrative. The Commission supports three programs operated by St. Patrick Center: an Independent Living Skills Program; an emergency rent and mortgage assistance program; and Rosati House, a transitional housing facility for adults.
Such partnerships — and a new working relationship with St. Louis County — are the region’s best hope of a bigger share of good news for everyone.