I know this isn't "news" at this point, but I'm a little bit behind and wanted to post this anyway....because this is actually really important.
A couple of weeks ago, Forbes published a list of the cities with the highest housing vacancy rates in the country -- and Kansas City (the metro, not just the city) rated #1 as the highest home vacancy rate in the nation.
We win!!!! Oh, wait. Kansas city ranked 69th out of 75 cities in home ownership rates, and 60th in rental ownership rates -- placing us dead last overall. Ouch.
The list has a variety of cities -- many who are suffering after overly inflate home values have caused people to be upside down in their homes (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, San Jose) and others that were manufacturing centers that have lost a lot of their manufacturing jobs (Dayton, Buffalo, Albany, NY).
I think it is important to note not only how this happened in Kansas City -- an area with relatively low home prices and not reliant on a single large manufacturing company). But we need to look at what's happened, and then try to determine what should be our next steps as a metro.
First off, this happens because of too rapid of growth in new housing starts and massive urban sprawl...creating more homes than our population supports.
Second, it happens because we are not attracting jobs to the metro at a pace to keep up with our growth -- that means attracting more companies to relocate here...and making a better environment for small business startups and growth.
And finally, it happens because as a community, we need to provide incentives for base jobs...not support jobs. However, we seem very willing to provide TIF for mostly shopping districts like Zona Rosa, P&L, Briarcliff and Citidel Plaza (which was thankfully declined) that are support jobs....supporting a population of people who work in white collar and manufacturing jobs that we're not growing very rapidly.
We need to do better.
But it's a great lesson when we talk about what types of projects that we want to provide tax financing for, it should not be for support jobs...we need to save these for new jobs that create a reason for people to live in our community. If there are people living and working here, then shopping districts will have no problem remaining open because there will be plenty of people to shop at them.
If we can fix that, and reign in our massive suburban sprawl problem, we can make a dent in the mess we've created.