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January 22, 2009



The weird part in all of this is that I agree with you in principle. But I doubt anything can be done to change it.

Mark Logan

Brent, very interesting investigative work. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

KC Sponge

Well, what is more beneficial to the developer? That's where the problem lies, probably. It's nice to get some government-subsidized guarantee for some units in a market rate property, but what if an entire project can be guaranteed to have a zero percent vacancy? Section 8 housing is a valuable tool for many families out there, but its implementation is a wreck. Proposals are approved, not sought out. Developers buy property that has been abandoned, get tax credits for 'economic development', and are guaranteed occupancy as soon as their doors open. The crime rate or affect on the neighborhood is not a line item on the proforma. I don't think project-based section 8 housing should be totally abolished - it definitely makes the most units available at one time, but it should be analyzed more and studied. People should care - thanks for doing just that.



I agree that there is a huge benefit to developers for these projects. $$ to help redevelop, and then guaranteed $$ on the back end. Nice gig if you can get it.



I don't think it's a matter of not knowing what can be done, I think it's a matter of realizing something HAS to be done. We're still using largely a 1930s model for solving a problem in 2009.

Getting rid of all project-based assignments would be the fastest way -- making everything tenant based. Obviously this would have to be phased in over time to be sure there wasn't a housing shortage -- but the Bainbridge lease was another 20-year program.

The other part, and this is maybe the most important element of it, is fixing our metro-wide transit system. If you can't afford your own place to live, you probably can't afford your own car. Thus, the majority of Section 8 users are going to HAVE to live in Midtown KCMO or on the East Side, because North/South/Joco don't have the necessary public transit to accommodate them. Our public transit in this city has been a major fail for lower-income folks - not only not giving them access to jobs in the burbs, but also helping to consolidate lower income folks. Until that gets fixed, there is going to be a limit to where these people can go -- and cutting a few million out of our transit budget isn't going to help matters.


Nice sentiment, but I can't agree with your "results." If the concentration of poor people were the problem, then there would be big red dots covering the east side. Maybe the problem is density - too many people packed in one building. Maybe the problem is the way the Section 8 project is managed - that doesn't make it easy for grandma to supervise her two grandkids. Maybe it is the fact that your view is of this building and residents as a label - Section 8. As residents, are these renters engaged in the neighborhood group? You have a project with a 20 year lease in your neighborhood - how will you work to improve and not just bemoan what you can't change today. I hear your concerns, and you may be right that decentralization is the answer. Consider alternative options.



Click on my link in the post to the KCMO Homicide Report (highlighted in red). It's a big file, will take some time to download. The East side is completely littered in red dots. I didn't include it, because, as you note, the entire east side is poverty stricken (a whole other problem).

Interestingly, there are few such spots in the North zone and the south zone -- and I couldn't find any major project-based Section 8 there (I'm sure there are some, I just couldn't locate them). I would speculate though that there aren't many because transit options barely exist there.

And yes, we'll have to consider other options for building near us....but that doesn't mean these contracts aren't coming due all the time in different parts of the city. And allowing the city to continue renewing these in spite of the consequences does us all a disservice.

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