St.Clair County's Consolidated Plan envisions a strategy for achieving housing and community development goals for the County. The following document summarizes the Plan so that citizens in the community can have a quick overview of the housing and community development problems, the 5-year broad objectives and actions proposed to meet these goals, and specific projects for carrying out this strategy during 1995.
To address both the priorities/concerns and the availability of funding, St. Clair County proposes the following allocations for 1995:
An internal task force was responsible for soliciting and inventorying
housing , homeless, economic development, public service/facilities needs from
citizens, elected officials, service organizations and other related government
organizations via various needs assessment surveys. Elements of the Plan were
developed with active citizen participation, including consultations,
informational meetings, needs assessment surveys and public hearings to solicit
input and participation from public and private agencies (county wide Elected
Officials, social service providers and citizens). In addition, Neighbors United
for Progress, a local CHDO, conducted a similar community housing needs survey
for the residents of Centreville which has been incorporated in the county's
overall housing needs strategy. Other efforts included provisions of
notices/announcements regarding the CP (from the initial information state to
the various draft completions) which were published in the most widely
circulated newspaper, and posted in town halls and libraries. The first draft
of the Consolidated Plan was published for public review on May 15, 1995, the
second draft was to be published June 29, and the completed Plan was published
on July 13. A brief summary of the Plan was printed and published in the
Belleville News Democrat July 10-12, and copies are available for public review
at branches of the public library and other locations.
St. Clair County is located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Illinois and is one of two adjoining Illinois urban counties which are part of the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area. The county is geographically divided along a general north/south axis into river valley (bottoms) and bluff areas. The county has diverse land uses - agricultural, urban, and suburban. The county's consolidated plan covers all areas within the county with the exception of East St. Louis which, as an entitlement community, has its own consolidated plan.St. Clair County population totaled 262,853 in the 1990 Census, of which 13 percent resided in rural areas. 27 percent of the population was African American, and most were concentrated in the County's Northwestern section, particularly in East St. Louis and its surrounding areas, making that one of the largest concentrations of minorities in the State. While there was an outmigration between 1980 and 1990, little change in the current population total is expected throughout the 1990's. Another aspect of population change is occurring, internal County movement from urban areas on the Mississippi flood plain, the bottomland communities, to eastern areas of the County.
Only 52% of the households are traditional married-couple families; households headed by females now account for 16%.
Changes in technology and patterns of distribution have made St. Clair County's heavy industries, e.g. meat packing, functionally obsolete.
County officials view the future as tied to transportation. Three
interstate highways run through the County. Scott Air Force Base is being
developed as a new commercial airport serving the St. Louis Metropolitan
(Metro-East) Area, and was by far, the largest employer in Southwestern Illinois
in 1995 with 13,500 employees. Although railroad employment has severely
declined in the St. Louis area, St. Clair County is still the second largest
rail center. Nearly one-third of the County's employed residents commute to work
outside of the County's borders.
Of the 95,333 households, 20,827 report housing problems, including 14,700 lacking public sewers; and 5,385 lacking public water. According to a 1993 Windshield Survey, 24% of owner-occupied and 17% of renter-occupied units were found to be substandard.
The 1990 Census reported 44,876 persons with incomes below the poverty level. 44% (19,745) of all children under 18 in a family household are below the poverty level, and nearly 9% of persons 65 years and over. 11% of families had incomes below the poverty level, and three-fourths of these were headed by a single female.
26% of the total number of households in St. Clair County experienced housing problems in 1990. Elderly 1 and 2 family households (56%) and large related (5 or more) renting households (58%) experienced, on a percentage basis, more housing problems than small related and other renting households. On the average, 44% of renting households experienced housing problems Elderly owners (20%) had more housing problems on a percentage basis than other owners (17%). Overcrowding is a significant problem for large households.
One in every four households in St. Clair County had very low incomes (0 to 50% Median Family Income (MFI) in 1989. Of the households with incomes below 30% MFI, 81% have housing problems and 59% have housing cost burdens greater than 50% of income. Approximately 37% of elderly had cost burdens greater than 50% of income, while over 61% of other owners had the same cost burdens.
Among renters, small family households are particularly vulnerable, with 90 percent of them experiencing housing problems and three-fourths with cost burden greater than 50%.
Minority population in the County are predominately African Americans, not randomly distributed, but concentrated in the bottomland communities. They bear a disproportionate share of housing problems, including neighborhoods with inadequate infrastructure, aged and substandard housing stock, depressed economic conditions, lower household incomes, lower median housing values, higher unemployment, and higher poverty as compared to the County as a whole.
There are a total of 103,432 housing units in St. Clair County and 95,333 are occupied. 65% by their owners. 35% are rented and 8 percent vacant. Home prices vary widely; prices for new houses in the strongest markets (e.g., O'Fallon) have driven up the prices for existing ones. Market strength is the result primarily of military employment, (which is expected to remain constant), and of the quality of the school systems.
Weakest real estate markets are in the American Bottoms where many residences have little, if any, residual value. Some of the rural-oriented small towns have little growth and only limited real estate activity. Pockets of blight are apparent throughout the County, particularly in the Bottoms.
Few residential rental units have been constructed in the County since the passage of federal tax reform legislation in 1986. The rental market was saturated for all income groups by the mid-to-late 1980's. Jobs have not grown enough to generate demand for more units and many new apartments had been constructed just prior to 1986: only now is the surplus diminishing at the upper end of the market. Rents are rising minimally for that market niche, but not sufficiently to warrant new construction. Current rent levels are inadequate to amortize debt, to pay operating expenses and to provide a return on equity. Construction is also inhibited by past experiences of lenders of large apartment projects who now require sizable equity contributions of 25-30%.
Overall, units for lower-income households are plentiful, and while a surplus exists, qualified applicants are in short supply. Because of the excess of low-income units, rents are not rising to keep pace with increasing maintenance expenses. Closer scrutiny of applicants by real estate management companies has resulted in longer periods of vacancy, but the net effect has been less property damage and better collection rates.
About 10,000 mobile homes are dispersed throughout the County. They vary widely in condition from mobile home rental parks with deplorable site and structural conditions to attractive parks with quality streets and landscaping.
Housing rehabilitation is a problem for most low income households who usually have very little funds available to do the necessary maintanance and up-keep. Of the 20,692 very low income households in the Couinty, slightly more than 47% own their homes. Among those with the lowest incomes (0% to 30% MFI), almost 3 out of every 4 households experienced some housing problem. Of owners in the 50-80% MFI range, slightly more than 62% own their homes; only 8% of the elderly have experienced some housing problems; but 31% of non-elderly reported housing problems.
Assistance with financing improvements is needed for owners with insufificient income and to relax some of the stringent requirements such as credit, income, down payment, etc, and to help provide accessibility for disabled persons.
Despite permissive underwriting, it has been difficult to approve very low to moderate income applicants for new housing. Some of the major reasons for rejection include adverse credit, insufficient income, and lack of funds/resources to meet down payment requirements. There is need to secure relaxing of some of the stringent requirements. There also is need for housing counseling and other related service to potential homeowners.
In every part of the County housing costs will continue to be a larger part of the budget for poorer residents. According to the 1990 Census, 39% of the population is low-income and if trends persist, increases in housing costs will have the strongest impact on the County's low-income residents, especially the elderly and single female heads of households.
The 1990 Census found only 89 homeless individuals, but it is the opinion of service providers that, at any given time, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 homeless persons in the balance of St. Clair County. These local service providers indicate the homeless population has doubled and agencies are not able to keep pace. In 1995 a countywide needs assesment survey identified 347 homeless persons; 58% requiring services for alcohol and other drug abuse, and 39% severely mentally ill. There is no reporting or monitoring system to track the homeless population, and providers gave anecdotal evidence about the number. One of the strategies proposed is to improve the monitoring of the homeless serviced by agencies countywide and the scope of services provided.
One reason for the increasing homeless population was the 1992 termination by the State of the General Assistance program administered by the local townships. General Assistance provided a monthly cash grant to thousands of single persons and families who, upon termination, became newly homeless in the County. They create over-crowded conditions in existing shelters and had a devastating impact on the quality of outreach and assessment services of local providers. In addition, the County has sustained heavy losses in employment growth due to the closing and/or relocation of businesses and cut backs in major industries.
St.Clair Housing Authority (SCHA) officials believe that the supply of housing is adequate and that the issue is insufficient income to afford quality units. There are 1016 public housing units (315 elderly), 40 Farmers Home Administration elderly units, and 2,149 Section 8 assisted units in the balance of the County. Units for very large households are in short supply. SCHA officials feel that more public housing units are unnecessary, but the need for privately-developed affordable, decent, safe, and sanitary rental and owner occupied housing assistance is important in Centreville, Alorton, and Brooklyn for the people who want to stay in those communities.
Few units are vacant, and all can be made suitable for occupancy.
The waiting list for public housing in April, 1995 had 203 elderly/disabled households, and 1012 waiting for family units (383 for 3+ bedrooms). The waiting list for Section 8 certificates and vouchers came to 92 elderly, 55 elderly disabled, 1652 family (non-disabled) and 399 family-disabled. For Section 8 project based certificates, there were 41 elderly/disabled and 509 families waiting. Units for large family are in short supply, along with special needs units (for frail and disabled elderly, mentally and developmentally disadvantaged and other persons with disabilities.
Barriers to affordable housing fall in two categories: controllable, on which the County may have a direct impact through its programs and funding, and non-controllable.
Controllable barriers include:
Non-controllable barriers include constraints in land use, low quality utility systems, and services that deter construction in some rural and unincorporated areas.
Local governments have broad authority to help provide affordable housing, through zoning and subdivision controls, directly affect the location, type, and price of housing. With governmental resources being decreased, less will be made available throughout the CDBG area.
While relevant public policies (both at the State and local levels) can positively affect the development of affordable housing, they can also have negative effects.
There is no statewide housing or building code, but state policies dealing with plumbing code, historic preservation, lead poisoning and asbestos abatement, could be construed as obstacles when used for court challenge under the Illinois Human Rights Act, for example, despite the legitimate public health and safety concerns they address.
State and local tax law and policy can discourage residential rehabilitation. Owners often are reluctant to make improvements in property because the improvements will increase real estate taxes. Frequently there are low rates of return on rehabilitated low-income housing. Without tax credits or other public subsidies, the development often will not occur.
A reliance on local property taxes as funding for schools and other services ties the fiscal interst of the jurisdiction to the types of housing it allows. As a result, jurisdictions are often unwilling to zone for and/or approve affordable housing developments, particularly multifamily rental developments containing large units.
In St. Clair County, 1,253 children were found to have blood levels in excess of the standards of the Center for Disease Control. The County's current lead hazard reduction activities include coordinating a Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program through the Illinois Department of Public Health and coordination of a weatherization program for up to 100 homes. In addition to the specific grants the county is involved by educating the public, requiring screening of all children under six years of age, ordering the mitigation of proven lead-based paint hazards, and licensing the industry that identifies and removes the hazards. Removing lead hazards has largely been the responsibility of individual property owners. Low-income property owners cannot afford to reduce the hazards from lead paint, and typically do not.
Some lead paint activity has been conducted by the County Housing Authority. Nine projects have been tested and eight were found with lead; abatement is in bid process for five, in progress for two, and completed in one.
The older, low/moderate income neighborhoods in the County's communities have need for public infrastructure improvements. In addition, some are built in flood plains protected by a system of drainage canals, ditches and levees. The primary infrastructure problems identified include poor or inadequate storm drainage systems, sanitary sewers systems, streets and sidewalks and water delivery systems.
The County needs to supplement the funding requirements for countywide economic development enhancement and growth opportunities, to assist businesses in creating or retaining jobs, primarily for low and moderate income persons. The County's Intergovernmental Grants Department (IGD) carries out a wide range of economic development activities funded mainly by the CDBG and CSBG Programs. These include such activities as direct lending through low interest rate-gap financing programs, site and building inventory management and referral services, marketing efforts in cooperation with regional development organizations and technical assistance to prospects on larger projects that are not likely to access IGD's loan programs due to loan size limitations, lack of information and advice about the "process" of economic development, especially for the smaller, rural villages, and a business retention program.
The Community Development Division of the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department coordinates and implements the Consolidated Plan in the CDBG Department.
The County provides activities to enhance coordination between public and assisted housing providers, private and government health, mental health and service agencies. An internal task force included representatives from various community development departments such as Housing, Public Facility, Economic Development and Management. Other coordination efforts included provisions of notices/announcements regarding this Consolidated Plan.
St. Clair County IGD has entered into a consortium agreement with the City
of Belleville under which IGD will administer the City's HOME funds and joint
participation agreement to administer their CDBG funds.
The County's unified vision is reflected in the three statutory goals: provide decent housing; provide a suitable living environment and expand economic opportunities.
The County has devised a three pronged housing strategy.
The County, in cooperation with the Housing Authority, will seek to improve the quality of rental housing for low income households and special needs group. If funding is available, the County will run a Rental Rehabilitation Program. Housing Authority staff believe they may apply for up to 200 additional Section 8 units over the next five years.
The combination of the 1993 flood related expenses and increased construction budgets established the need to extensively change the SCHA's Comprehensive Five Year Plan
Two priorities were etablished for responding to the needs of the homeless. First, priority is to continue making available its Emergency Shelter Grant funds to eligible social service providers. All eligible social service agencies throughout the County may seek assistance.
Priority #2 is permanent housing. To meet the need, the County plans to continue providing assistance to eligible social service providers for such services as emergency shelters and permanent housing.
For low income persons to secure a mortgage loan, financing is generally available. In targeted central areas of Belleville, lenders combined resources for the Housing Acquisition Program. It is focused on properties which sell for under $45,000. The program features 5% down payment and no PMI (private mortgage insurance); about 200 loans have been made totaling $5 million.
Another consortium of banks, the Metro-East Lending Group was formed to increase the avilability of financing, particularly in the American Bottoms area. Despite very liberalized terms, it has been difficult to qualify prospects in the Bottoms. A newly formed Metro East Mortgage Review Board representing eight lending institutions, one of three of its kind in the nation, has been formed in an effort to collaboratively provide a review process for a borrower who has been turned down for a mortgage loan.
The County hopes to provide individual counseling services to low and very low income renters, homeowners and first time homebuyers. Continued technical assistance support will be given to existing nonprofit organizaitons and encouraging the formation of new ones to provide additional counseling services for budgeting, home purchase and maintenance.
Over the next three to five years the County plans to continue using a portion of the CDBG dollars to supplement the funding requirements for countywide infrastructure improvements. As such, mainly the low income persons within the individual communities benefit from this program. The primary infrastructure problems identified include poor or inadequate storm drainage systems, sanitary sewer systems, streets and sidewalks and water delivery systems.
Priorities are sanitary sewers renovations; street/sidewalk/road improvements; renovations to flood/storm water retention systems; renovations to potable water delivery systems, and hazard mitigation.
Over the next three to five years the County plans to continue using a portion of the CDBG dollars to supplement the funding requirements for countywide economic development enhancement and growth opportunities. As such, the economic development funds are designed to assist businesses in creating or retaining jobs, primarily for low and moderate income persons. Priorities include job retention, new business/job creation, commercial\industrial infrastructure and technical assistance.
Anti-poverty strategy includes the following components: expenditures for infrastructure improvements for communities in need; especially those with large numbers of low to moderate income households; special economic development assistance to for-profit organizations through a low-interest revolving loan fund, provided for expansion or location in the County and making newly created jobs available to low-moderate income persons; and housing rehabilitation loans and grants to households with low and moderate incomes.
In the broader sense, St. Clair County's anti-poverty efforts are tied to expansion of Metro- Link, the region's light rail system, joint commercial/military use of Scott Air force Base, and retention and expansion of business activities through such techniques as enterprise zones. County residents recently agreed to increase the sales tax for extending MetroLink from East St. Louis to the Belleville area and on to Scott Air Force Base. This is a major economic development and anti-poverty move.
Surveying and interviewing social service and housing providers is another aspect of IGD's anti-poverty strategy.
The County expects to utilize $4,080,000 in Federal Entitlement Grants, including reallocated funds, plus $648,000 in program income. Major components are:
Other HUD programs are administered by the County, including Emergency
Shelter and Lead Paint grants. The County administers the Community Service
Block Grant (CSBG), a federal grant program which comes via the Illinois
Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. This grant jurisdiction includes
the City of East St. Louis. Activities funded include emergency and social
services to persons with incomes ranging from 75 to 125 percent of poverty
level. The County also administers the Illinois Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program which assists with clients' heating and cooling bills
To address both the priorities/concerns and the availability of funding, St. Clair County proposes the following allocation of funds for 1995 projects:
Some 26 specific public works projects ranging from $30-100,000 are identified for such activities as sanitary sewer replacement or pump repair, water main replacement, streets and sidewalk repair, and architectural barrier removal in public buildings.
The lead agency is the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 depicts Neighborhood Segments and proposed HUD funded projects.
TABLE (without associated map) depicts additional information about the project(s).