Task Force Formed to Develop St. Louis County Affordable Housing Fund

This abandoned home in Lemay in St. Louis County was auctioned at three land tax sales without attracting a bidder. Photo by Walker Moskop, wmoskop@post-dispatch.com.

Jacob Barker St.Louis Post-Dispatch
Reposted from the St. Louis Dispatch

A task force will spend the next several months examining how to form, run and pay for an affordable housing trust fund in St. Louis County.

An 18-member task force, which Beyond Housing CEO and task force co-chair Chris Krehmeyer called a “virtual all-star team” of community development and affordable housing professionals, will meet monthly and submit its recommendations to the St. Louis County Executive’s office in the first quarter of 2019. 

Flanked by community development representatives from nonprofits and universities, County Executive Steve Stenger announced the creation of the task force at a press conference Wednesday. 

“Every St. Louis County resident deserves a decent and affordable place to call home,” said Stenger, who faces challenger Mark Mantovani in the St. Louis County Democratic primary Aug. 7.

Affordable housing funds are operated throughout the country, and the city of St. Louis has had one for years. The city allocates a portion of its business use tax to the fund each year, part of a 2002 voter-approved tax measure. The city housing trust fund has consistently received less than the $5 million allocation called for in the ordinance, but this year’s budget is poised to allocate $5.5 million to affordable housing.
 
 
The creation of an affordable housing trust fund in St. Louis County was the top recommendation listed in an April report — Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide — authored by a coalition of housing and social justice groups.
 
“What we know is these kinds of trust funds are all over the country,” said Jason Purnell, project director at For The Sake of All, one of the groups involved in the report, and an associate professor at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. The county, he said, “won’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

But details on funding, organization and operation of such a trust fund aren’t clear yet. The recent “Dismantling the Divide” report calls on the county to reallocate existing resources or establish new ones for the housing fund, including consideration of “a voter campaign to establish a small sales tax to generate revenues for the trust fund.”

Stenger said he didn’t know whether the county would need a new funding source for the trust fund and would wait for the task force’s recommendations. He did say the fund would work both in unincorporated St. Louis County and with the county’s dozens of municipalities. “Need does not have boundaries,” he said. 

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