Kansas City, Missouri's tax-increment financing (TIF) program gets criticized for enriching developers. TIF's defenders point to projects like the "Glover plan," which, in addition to delivering a Costco and a Home Depot, provided money for midtown homeowners to fix up their property.
Housing programs have become a popular add-on to various TIF plans. The TIF plan featured in this week's Martin column has made grants to residents in the Southmoreland neighborhood.
Eighty-nine homeowners in Southmoreland have taken part in the program. An additional $585,000 will become available. "I'm a big proponent of these housing programs," says Kate Corwin, a Southmoreland resident who serves on a committee that advises the TIF plan. "I think they're great."
To be sure, it's nice to see regular folks benefiting a program that developers and attorneys have used to trim their business cards in gold leaf. The community benefits, as well, because the money helps homeowners keep their exteriors looking nice.
But are TIF housing programs really fair?
The inequity stems from the fact that TIF housing programs award public money to some residents but not others.
Sure, the 43rd and Main TIF plan has been good for Southmorelanders. But Kansas City residents who live who in other neighborhoods are ineligible to participate simply because their home does not abut an area in which a Fortune 1000 company wanted to expand. Gone Mild blogger Dan Ryan has called the Southmoreland program a "PIMBY," as in, "Please, In My Backyard."