Bill to Authorize $40M Bond to Address Vacant Housing Moves Forward

By on January 29, 2019

From The St. Louis American:  It’s been nearing two years since voters approved a $40-million bond issue to stabilize 200 vacant, city-owned residential properties a year.

After a yearlong legal battle over whether Proposition NS actually received enough votes to pass, the court sided with the City of St. Louis in September and now construction can get underway – almost.

Today, an aldermanic committee unanimously passed Board Bill 222, sponsored by Alderman Jeffrey Boyd (D-Ward 22) to authorize the bond process to move forward.

The bill authorizes the sale of up to $6 million in bonds each year to stabilize vacant residential buildings in the city’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) “land bank.” The LRA, which is staffed by the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC), will manage the $6 million annual fund. Acting as a general contractor, the LRA will allocate up to $30,000 for a single-family home or $50,000 for a multi-family building to stabilize them and then sell them to individual rehabbers or small developers.

The bond will be repaid through a property-tax increase – that will start with a one-cent annual raise the first year and eventually go up to a seven-cents increase.

While the bill passed out of committee unopposed, it sparked an hour-long debate, led by Aldermen Cara Spencer (D-Ward 20) and John Collins-Muhammad (D-Ward 21.)

“I was a big supporter of Proposition NS,” said Spencer, the vacancy proposition that passed in April 2017. “To remind everyone, Proposition NS was a citizen-led petition process that put together this concept, under the leadership of SLACO (St. Louis Association of Community Organizations) and citizen volunteers who spent countless hours gathering signatures to help this city find a funding mechanism to address vacancy throughout our city.”

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