Vote NO on RAD bonds

Vote NO on RAD bonds

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STUN Springfield Tenants Unite started this petition to City of Springfield Industrial Development Authority

Dear Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner and board members of the IDA,


To protect tenants and vulnerable populations that will be impacted by the RAD conversion of public housing, the public housing residents of HAS properties, Springfield Tenants Unite and the Coalition to Protect Missouri Tenants are writing this email to urge you to vote no on the $22 million bond that Keystone Family Homes LP and their partners are seeking.

The Housing Authority of Springfield, and BGC Advantage, who have more recently formed a partnership together - Keystone Family Homes LP -  are not making good faith efforts to build safe, affordable, accessible housing for the tenants living within these developments, nor are they doing that for the future tenants who will inhabit these homes later. It is irresponsible and unethical to hand over large amounts of public resources and investment for redevelopment plans that do not serve the public good but rather, further exacerbates the already dire housing situation within Springfield. It is the Industrial Development Authority's (IDA) responsibility to act in the best interest of the residents of Springfield.

Public housing tenants and community advocates working to improve housing stock and sustainable redevelopment in Springfield have put together a basic outline about some of the most egregious issues found within Keystone's proposal, in addition to their general disregard for and treatment toward tenants.


1. Their proposal is grossly lacking in the provision of adequate ADA and/or universal design units to meet the needs of existing tenants already living in said housing.

 The City of Springfield’s Consolidated Plan for 2020-2024 reported 38% of public housing tenants households with disabilities and that 94% asked for accommodations. And yet, they only plan to include 5% ADA units for mobility disabilities and 2% for vision and hearing disabilities across the entire project (765 units) - that is far less than what tenants need (Fiscal Years 2020-2024  Draft Consolidated Plan).


Plans for the future construction of additional ADA units are admirable, but do not address immediate problems that could be incorporated into the RAD plans.
In speaking with tenants residing in the phase 1 homes about whether this number of ADA units would meet their needs, it was clear that many families and individuals would be going back to homes that lacked functionality due to varying disabilities.


Example: The cul-de-sac on Delaware Avenue.
Housing advocates working closely with tenants know of at least four families living within the cul-de-sac needing ADA units when only TWO are planned. This is not enough to ensure safe, accessible housing for the tenants.
This indicates that HAS has failed to sufficiently evaluate tenants’ access needs.
If Keystone wants funding from the IDA in the form of bonds, they need to demonstrate that they will be providing the amount of accommodations tenants actually need, not just the bare minimum.


2. Keystone Family Homes LP's proposal fails to address the lack of appropriate housing needed to care for Springfield's growing disabled and aging population.  

 According to U.S Census bureau statistics, 25.6% of adults in the U.S have some type of disability, the numbers are higher in Missouri at 29.1% (Disability & Health U.S. State Profile Data: Missouri). Across the nation, many people with disabilities are experiencing an affordability crisis. Approximately 4.8 million non-institutionalized people with disabilities who rely on federal monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have income averaging only about $9,156 per year (Housing for People With Disabilities & Their Families). These figures explain the higher numbers of disabled persons and families living in public housing or using section 8 rent vouchers, as compared to the general population. 


Missouri's senior population is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years, from less than 15% of the state population in the year 2000, to over 20% by 2030. This means that approximately one in five neighbors, friends, and family members will be senior citizens (Rice). Greene county's aging population is projected to increase even higher, from 19% in the year 2020, to 23.6% in 2030 (Greene).


According to Springfield's consolidated plan 2020-2024, 21.8% of the tenants that either live in Springfield's public housing developments, or use section 8 rental vouchers, are elderly (322 elderly tenants out of 1476 total tenants). As previously stated, those numbers are expected to increase from now through 2030. The availability of affordable and accessible housing remains far less than the need, leaving far too many elderly and disabled individuals, and families at risk of institutionalization, homelessness, or "worst case housing" (paying too much in rent to afford other basics or living in severely inadequate conditions).


The needs of the elderly and disabled population vary greatly. However, as these populations continue to age, it is clear that there will be greater accessibility needs for both in the years to come. Not planning ahead to meet these needs when there is an option to do so, is unwise and unethical, especially when it is clear that there is enough funding on the table to provide for more affordable, accessible units that implement universal design features. This is an avoidable problem, and it is the IDA's responsibility to ensure that they do not contribute to the problem. Being thorough about understanding all the different aspects about this project and other projects like this, is paramount to ensuring that we meet the city's current and future need for decent housing. 


The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on a number of traits/characteristics to include age and disability (Fair Housing: Rights and Obligations).The redevelopment plan proposed by Keystone, willfully and purposefully discriminates against building better housing for these protected populations. 


It is the IDA's duty to ensure that public funding and policy satisfy both the immediate, and long term needs of Springfield residents through thoughtful planning and oversight of redevelopment plans as proposed by developers and landlords. A vote to finance the plan as currently presented by Keystone in its unaltered state ensures that the issues regarding the lack of affordability and accessibility in housing will not only persist, but continue to get worse in the near future.


3.  Keystone's proposal will lead to the displacement of current tenants and could lead to additional displacement of low income individuals living in the surrounding area(s).

Tenants currently residing in public housing who opted into paying flat-rate rents rather than income-based rents can expect to see their rent go up after RAD. Some of these people will not be able to afford rents at the new rate and will be displaced as a result.


The planned renovations are expected to raise property values at all of the properties. When this happens, property values of surrounding homes may also increase, making once affordable neighborhoods unaffordable to the people that currently live there.


The proposed plan will include turning low income housing to mixed income housing instead. While mixed income housing is a good choice for new developments, it's not good for redevelopments of housing already dedicated to serving the neediest within our community. Doing so without first building replacement units to make up for the loss in low income housing stock will have negative impacts on a city that already struggles with a 25% poverty rate  (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Springfield city, Missouri). Without a plan to mitigate these negative effects, adopting such a plan could lead to increased housing insecurity and homelessness, putting additional strain on public services, agencies and area nonprofits.


4.  We cannot expect Keystone's predatory and unethical behavior to change on their own volition. Without proper oversight requiring Keystone to act within reasonable fiscal and ethical standards, passing a bond to give Keystone $22 million, is simply a reckless proposition.

The housing Authority/Keystone has resorted to harassment, threats and intimidation toward tenants as a way to silence opposition to this proposal.
While the Housing Authority and it's partners have insisted that their inability to keep the housing in decent, sanitary, workable conditions for their tenants was due to the lack of funding, it is evident that even with vast amounts of funding being made available now (roughly $43 million dollars in reinvestment funding for just the first phase of the rehab project), they continue to choose plans that leave devastation and misery in their wake.


The IDA has an obligation to ensure that low income tenants are protected when considering redevelopment plans. Since the IDA has stated that it is not able to put conditions on funding and that it only has the ability to vote "yes" or "no" on plans submitted by developers/landlords, we - the public housing tenants, tenants living in the Springfield Area, and housing advocates across the state - urge Springfield’s IDA to vote no, and we advise Keystone to start working with tenants to create better thought out plans which can then be resubmitted to both HUD, and the IDA for reconsideration.

 

 

 

Works Cited


“Fiscal Years 2020-2024 Draft Consolidated Plan.” City of Springfield, 2020

“Disability & Health U.S. State Profile Data: Missouri.” Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Sept. 2020, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/impacts/missouri.html   

“Housing for People With Disabilities & Their Families.” The Arc, 2020,

thearc.org/policy-advocacy/housing/

Rice, Glenn. “Home / Missouri Senior Report.” Home /, 2020, www.missouriseniorreport.org/  

“Greene.” Missouri Senior Report.

“Fair Housing: Rights and Obligations: HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban

Development (HUD).” Fair Housing: Rights and Obligations | HUD.gov / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 2020, www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_rights_and_obligations   

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Springfield City, Missouri.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, 2020, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/springfieldcitymissouri/DIS010218    

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