This article is 2 years old. It was published on January 10, 2020.
This year, the Affordable Housing Commission for the City of St. Louis will provide financial support for more than 50 affordable housing programs and developments that collectively represent $75 million in citywide investments.
“Everything about who we are and who we become begins at home. That’s why we must ensure access to safe, affordable, and decent housing. It’s a prerequisite of all sustainable, educated, and world-class cities, and a central part of my vision for building a stronger, healthier, and more equitable St. Louis,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Mayor Krewson increased the Affordable Housing Commission’s funding from $5 million to more than $6 million in 2020. That allowed the Commission, which oversees the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, to this week award grants and loans to 54 programs and developments. It is the first time since 2006 that the Trust Fund has been able to award more than $5 million through its annual competitive process.
“I’m grateful to Mayor Krewson for her unwavering commitment to affordable housing. She allowed us to support most of the agencies from last year that applied at the same monetary amount or higher. We were also able to fund new agencies that are addressing a multitude of challenges,” said April Ford Griffin, Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Commission.
In all, 48 community programs and six housing developments will receive funding from the Trust Fund, which is double the number of housing construction proposals the Commission was able to fund in 2019.
The housing developments include three single-family home construction projects by Habitat for Humanity and three rental housing projects. With a nearly $2 million contribution from the Trust Fund, the total cost of the six projects is valued at $25.6 million. The projects will help create 19 affordable, single-family homes that will be sold to low and moderate-income families, 100 affordable rental homes, and 15 market-rate apartments.
One of the rental projects includes the transformative rehabilitation of historic Webster School into 49 universally designed apartments for seniors. Another involves the new construction of a 50 unit, mixed-income campus for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Among the programs that will receive funding this year is the Gateway Neighborhood Mortgage program, which was put forward by Justine Petersen, the Equal Housing Opportunity Council, and the St. Louis Development Corporation. The new initiative, modeled after a highly successful program in Detroit, will provide loans (above appraised values) to homebuyers improving homes in depressed markets. By closing the gap between the purchase price and the appraisal, these loans remove the primary barrier that often keeps buyers from purchasing and improving properties in struggling areas.
Some of the other community programs and services receiving funding include: Places for People, St. Patrick Center, Peter & Paul Community Services, Inc., Employment Connection, Rebuilding Together St. Louis, Mission: St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders, and Biddle Housing Opportunities Center.
The programs work citywide to address housing-related issues like tenants’ rights, education, and counseling, foreclosure prevention, neighborhood stabilization, rent, mortgage, and utility assistance, and critical home repairs. Some also work in conjunction with the City’s Department of Human Services to provide shelter and transitional housing and serve at-risk and/or chronically homeless veterans, individuals, and families.
“These programs build human potential and forge new opportunities for individuals and their families. Together, with funds from the Affordable Housing Commission, our partners are helping us solve affordable housing problems that cannot be solely addressed by the City or the private market,” said Mayor Krewson.
The Trust Fund derives its annual funding from a City use tax paid by businesses on purchases of goods from outside the State of Missouri. By ordinance, all funds awarded by the Commission must benefit families and individuals with incomes at or below 80% of the area’s established median income. Forty percent of the funds must benefit families and individuals with incomes at or below 20% of the area’s established median income.
Since 2003, the Affordable Housing Commission for the City of St. Louis has made considerable citywide investments, with nearly $33 million going to construction of affordable housing. These projects have a combined total value of more than $650 million. The Commission has also invested more than $100 million in grants and loans supporting affordable housing programs and services.
Since 2003, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the City of St. Louis has leveraged more than $617 million in outside funding. Every Trust Fund dollar invested in construction attracts $18.77 from outside sources and benefits individuals and families citywide.