KC's lack of affordable housing plan evident in Troost growth

For decades Troost Avenue has been Kansas City's shorthand for separation: East from West, Black from White, Poverty from Opportunity.

This partition, a legacy of government policy that promotes discrimination and neglect, resolves. A wave of economic development, which has been pressing for years from west, has broken through. Between 24 and 52 streets there are more than 800 new apartments and a hotel under construction or in the planning pipeline.

The once live shopping district at 31 Street is on its way to renewal. Home rehabilitation and infill construction that started in Beacon Hill, swings south through downtown, Squier Park and the Manheim Park neighborhoods.

However, with the transformation, Troost risks becoming a shorthand for another form of historical failure: the absence of city policies to provide affordable housing and protect long-term residents from displacement.

Despite the city's urgent need for low and moderate income homes, almost all of the corridor's new apartments will be "market rate" ̵[ads1]1; even after developers (MAC Properties, Milhaus and UC-B, among others) received tax reductions and other incentives to invest in a furious society. This means that the units will be largely out of reach of those who do under the city's median household income of $ 51,235.

Unlike most major cities, Kansas City does not require housing developers to set aside a portion of their new units as "affordable," or cost a family no more than 30 percent of their gross income.

"Let's be honest. It's not bad to build more expensive homes for people who can afford it," says Justin Mathews, Managing Director of Reconciliation Services, 30-year-old community development nonprofit at 31st and Troost. "The pleasure is that we do it without providing for thousands of families struggling to survive and succeed on the eastern side. "

Within a mile radius of Mathews office, 50 percent of households make less than $ 25,000 a year, according to population data. percent is led by a parent twice in the statewide award.

On 30th Street, workers put the latest details on apartments and shops in what had been an industrial bakery. But in Wonder Lofts, where two-bedroom apartments go for $ 1,100 to over $ 1,300 a month, a single parent with two children will have to earn about $ 25 an hour – more than twice as much as Missouri's minimum salary will be in 2023 with the last pass of Proposition B – to rent there.

"We build Troost. We build all these nice condos and things, but who do we really build? "Asked Linda Benson, 71, who has lived in several Eastern neighborhoods in the mid-century city." You know that minority people can not pay $ 1200 for rent. It's ridiculous. So who are you building up for?


Long-time Eastside resident Linda Benson, 71, is not opposed to new developments, but is concerned about affordable price such as Troost Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods being revitalized.

Keith Myers kmyers @ kcstar .com

It is a matter of the local real estate industry that at least one segment of Troost is the next crossroads, department store and industrial area that developed into art galleries, restaurants and elegant apartments.

"Things happen faster here than the crossroads," says Jason. Carter-Solomon, Vice President of Enterprise Bank and Trust, an active lender in the area. "You have many people squeaking consolation."

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A clear political choice & # 39;

For the most part, the new construction is aimed at attracting young professionals and their families. erected in the suburbs, has been priced out of a recently expensive city center, but will be close to work in an authentic urban environment.

Housing attorneys said City Hall – not developers – is responsible for not ensuring that the new home on Troost will be available for a blend of income levels.

"Low income and moderate income earners deserve assurances that there is a place for them at Troost, both now and in the future," said Matt Nugent, an architect who lives in Squier Park. "And developers need to know from the beginning of a project what will be required by them in terms of affordable housing. Unfortunately, we do not have a housing policy that does any of these things."

The city introduced a draft of its first housing policy in September , demanding a $ 75 million public-private housing fund and the creation or conservation of at least 5,000 affordable homes and apartments by the end of 2023.

Although approved by city council, the plan is no more than a modest start. Officials estimate that 7,000 extra affordable units are needed for families who make less than $ 15,000 a year. Households in the $ 50,000 to $ 75,000 series face a deficit of more than 10,000 affordable places.

Commander Quinton Lucas and mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner, both candidates for the Mayor in 2019, sponsor his own package of initiatives. They include the requirement that developers seeking financial incentives from the city make up 15 percent of the new units to households to or under 80 percent of city media income, or about 41,000 dollars a year.

Other ideas in the game include freezing property tax for long-term owners in areas with rapidly rising home values ​​and limiting tax credits available to those who rehabbing existing homes or building new ones.

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" Let's be honest. It's not a bad thing to build more expensive homes for people who can afford it, "says Father Justin Mathews, Managing Director of Reconciliation Services, the 30-year community development non-profit at 31st and Troost. "It is rumored that we do that without giving up to thousands of families struggling to survive and succeed on the eastern side."

Keith Myers

These issues and the possible regulations, Has been clear and urgent for many years. Yet, only in the past year, by Mayor Sly James's second four-year period, affordability has become a problem with front burners.

Why has it taken so long?

Lucas, chairman of the housing committee, said he has experienced resistance from James and the city leader Troy Schulte, whom he called important allies in any attempt to cope with the complexity of affordable housing.

"I think when you look at Kansas City for the past eight years, it's about airports and infrastructure and keeps the moment going," said Lucas, who runs his first council. "It was a clear political choice."

James said in an e-mail statement that it has taken Schult's office time "to gather data and information needed to create a comprehensive housing policy", including collaboration with the Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) on a thorough investigation of the local housing market.

James also noted that he created his own housing committee when the current council took office in 2015, decoupling it from neighborhoods and making Lucas to the chair because of the importance of affordable.

"The decision of a comprehensive policy is appropriate

Developers along Troost said that any new city policy must come with an acknowledgment that even with tax incentives, lower rents will require more capital to do projects econo misk viable. Banks lend themselves to the cash flow a building is expected to produce. Investors expect an annual return of 10 percent and upwards.

  Wonder Lofts developers achieved a 10-year, 100 percent property tax reduction from the city followed by another seven-year 43 percent break and state and federal historical tax credits. But the co-consultant said that reduced leases would make it difficult to get a large enough building loan. </p>
<p dir= Architect Caleb Buland said that he put 20 percent of Wonder's units for tenants who make 60 percent to 80 Percentage of median income will delete about $ 1 million of rental income over 10 years.

"At that time, we had to cut the bank loan or find an investor plus find revenue to continue balancing the operating budget," said Buland.

Builders argue that any kind of "inclusive zoning", which requires apart from income-based apartments, would only drive them away from projects in areas such as Troostkorridoren. [19659025] Au Drey Navarro, managing partner for Clemons Real Estate, which rebuilds the 31th shopping district, said that less construction footprints and partnerships with nonprofit organizations could do more to build up the finance gap between market prices and reasonable.

"The solution is not always let's define more rules and regulations," she said.

Other regulations involve the revival of Missouri's Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which outweighs tax obligations for low income housing developers. The program was killed earlier this year under the administration of da-Gov. Eric Greitens. Gov. Mike Parson said he did not want to support the renewal of the program before being revolutionized to eliminate inefficiencies revealed in state audits.

There is also hope that the new federal opportunity zones, a product of this year's federal tax reform bill, will have an impact. The program allows investors to invest capital gains in special funds which, in turn, invest in projects in poor societies. Depending on how long the money remains in the fund, tax on these gains will be delayed or reduced.

Matthews said he must believe that the capacity is there.

"If we can not figure out a way like a city, as brilliant and entrepreneurial and philanthropic as we are to pursue a development without displacement strategy, then we'll never be the big city we claim to be."

Gentrification or not?

Nowhere in Kansas City's 72-page draft proposal is the word "gentrification."

The term has a number of definitions, most familiar with how people with money change predominantly poor communities when they move in: higher housing costs, loss of local culture or identity and displacement. It has played dramatically in big cities like San Francisco and New York, and to a lesser extent in Kansas City.

John Wood, the city's neighborhood and residential director, said that while Crossroads and West Side experienced some gentrification, the Troostkorridor's deep inventory of abandoned homes and vacant land, creates another scenario.

"We are far from gentrification," said Wood in an interview in September. "We do not disturb people. In my mind, we have too much land, too much property, which is available now." No one has been squeezed out. "


The revitalization of Troost Avenue includes new apartments such as going up between 26 and 27 streets.

Other housing and neighborhood advocates adopt a version of the Central Court Potter Stewart's definition of pornography when discussing gentrification. They know it when they see it.

"It's so close, it's happening right now," said Stephen Samuels, Managing Director of LISC, working with the city and other organizations to rebuild the urban core east of Troost in a way that still enjoys long-term residents.

"It's not enough to say that we did not drive out. There can not be a shift in the beginning," said Samuels, but a slower 10 to 15 year process of rental and property taxes that cheer up to become unsustainable for residents on fixed income.

Not only is new construction making the area more expensive. In postcode on both sides of Troost, house prices have increased by 17 percent to 20 percent in the last three years – about twice the global growth, according to research center RENTCafé.

"It used to be that you could find a one bedroom apartment with tools included for $ 450 to $ 500," Matthews said. "Now you are lucky to find an apartment that is a bedroom without aids for $ 800 or more. "

On a later afternoon, Clay Marcus, a retired registered nurse, collected the last of his assets – a bike, a laundry basket and small plant – from his one-bedroom apartment in South Hyde Park. had lived on the second floor ie A modest but solid fourplex for nine years at $ 575 a month.

In September, building management company Douglas J. Hannah informed residents that their leases would not be renewed. It was not an eviction in the strictest sense: The company invited tenants to look at their other listings, all more expensive.

Hannah did not share her plans for the building, and a spokesman for the company did not call back for comment. It is likely to be remodeled to attract higher rent.

Marcus, 68, who moves in with his girlfriend south of the Plaza, said it was a shock, although he had seen other buildings under the same metamorphosis in his

"You wonder where people are going to go" he said.

Veteran developer John Hoffman from UC-B Properties, who has built and remodeled homes in East Troost neighborhood for the last several years, does not do much deal with coping. Failure of public schools and stagnant wages is the problem, he said, not new investment.

"Our philosophy is that we can not be all things for all people," said Hoffman, who sees his mission as trying to rebuild neighborhoods by "Mixing" small amounts of new and rehabbed homes. He has recently built and sold four homes in Manheim for $ 275,000 – a price unheard of a couple of years ago – on vacant plots he bought.

"To me, it's not gentrification at all," he said.

Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jean's Juicery, offering handmade juice and "healthy bite" katty corner to Wonder Lofts, constitutes the gentrification conundrum.

Goode is a former college football star farmed near downtown and Springfield, proud of its business and lifestyle it promotes in a local core where fast food has been king.

He is also aware of the tensions that change. His juice and smoothies go for $ 7.50; add a sandwich and the fan is approaching $ 20.

He introduces a cheaper "Troost Meal", with $ 5 vegan chili and other offers available to those who live or work in the area. Goode hopes it will make its product more accessible.

"I understand the sensitivity of the price," said Goode, who grew up at 39 and Wabash. "We benefit from gentrification, but we must be sensitive to it. It's a real concern."

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