Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Affordable Housing Trust Fund Introduced in St. Louis County

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Affordable Housing Trust Fund Introduced in St. Louis County

Article excerpt

CLAYTON -- St. Louis County will have a trust fund to help increase the availability of safe and inexpensive housing if the County Council passes legislation introduced Tuesday by Councilwoman Lisa Clancy.

The move comes after years of recommendations from community leaders, residents and the county's own Affordable Housing Trust Fund Task Force on how to make the county more accessible for vulnerable populations. The bill is co-sponsored by Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D-4th District.

Initially, the effort would be funded by 12% of the 1% county sales tax on medical marijuana, an amount expected to be less than $12,000 a year, said Clancy, D-5th District. The council's presiding officer, Ernie Trakas, R-6th District, noted at a council work session that "the original idea from the county executive's standpoint was, let's get it started and then look for other revenue sources as we go forward."

The measure is likely to go to a preliminary vote at the council's meeting next week, and to a final vote in two weeks. Two area residents praised the measure in comments to the council Tuesday.

"As I can only assume, many of you grew up being told, as I did, that our only human needs are food, clothing and shelter, yet as a society, we have failed in providing these basic needs," said Michelle Witthaus, program manager for Health Equity Works, a research project at Washington University that helped produce the 2018 report Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide. Among its key recommendations was funding the city of St. Louis' affordable housing trust fund. "And that's where you, as elected officials, get the chance to right some of society's wrongs."

Lesley Sexton, a member of the city's affordable trust fund coalition, told the council, "No one should have to worry about where they're going to live or whether their house is going to cave in around their lives. …

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