Kansas City's economic development industry is politically powerful. It serves its own financial interests, and cannot respond to our greatest economic development need: affordable homes. In the quest for profit we now have too many expensive apartments for “empty-nesters and millennials.”
Less expensive units built with tax incentives are too small for people with children, with rent that is too expensive for low and middle-income families.
Long-term monitoring of tax incentives is lax. Better run, tax incentives could help create affordable homes. Instead of giving inside deals to big construction companies, well-connected real estate developers and teams of lawyers, we must invest in community-driven solutions that empower small and medium-sized developers, neighborhoods and families.
Tax incentives alone are not enough to create the affordable housing we need now. The city must invest and deliver new tools now. Help smaller developers navigate municipal bureaucracy. Establish an ethically-run community trust fund, such as the one proposed by KC tenants in their People’s Housing Platform. Any residential development that gets tax incentives MUST contribute to diverse, sustainable communities. Luxury housing development must pay its own costs.