It comes as no surprise that Sikeston still has a problem with substandard housing. By now, everyone knows the background in the housing issue locally that resulted in the formation of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.
The LCRA was charged with the responsibility - funded with a sales tax approved by voters - to address the housing problem and begin the task of removing problem properties.
This is all old news.
So for the past few years, little by little, long-neglected houses have been leveled. The long-term goal of the city is to remove these problem properties and (hopefully) make way for new development.
But the key to success - as everyone agrees - is to rebuild homes that would fit into a financial range that could attract first-time home buyers. There is fairly universal agreement that Sikeston has a disproportionate number of rental homes and that what is truly needed are affordable homes for sale.
New bank loans are available here that could make the cost of buying an affordable home as inexpensive as renting a property.
But before the redevelopment can get into full swing, two critical points must be overcome.
The first issue is the removal of those properties that remain in neglect. And that takes money. And unfortunately - despite the sales tax revenues - there simply is not enough money to solve the problem.
Now I am one who does not believe that money will solve all of the problems in a community. But on this particular issue, yes indeed, it will take money to remove the properties and we don't have the funds available.
And of course when you have government involved, you have all sorts of hoops you must jump through for asbestos removal, etc.
It ain't cheap folks!
The city - led by Councilman Mike Bohannon - visited with the Missouri Attorney General's office to help widen the net of those fighting on our behalf. The AG's office was given a list of 181 properties in condemned conditions here that the city cannot find a title trail of ownership.
Here's the funny thing. At this point, no one has been able to pinpoint who owns 150 of those houses. So before you can condemn and remove a property, you first have to determine who owns the houses.
Do you see how complex this mess has become?
Now to the second point on affordable houses. The real problem here is getting residents financially qualified to be approved for a home loan. This is a major problem. If the problem properties are removed, developers may be reluctant to build new homes if few in the market can qualify for home loans.
This problem will remain for longer than hoped. But just for your information, there are those who address this issue on a daily basis. And though the mortgage scam involved many of these properties, right now this is our problem to fix.
I'll try to keep you updated.