$9.5 million for 30 houses?

May 1, 2014 

At a groundbreaking this week for a new residential development in East St. Louis, people applauded the coming of more affordable single-family housing.

Well, it may be affordable for the people who will live there but not the taxpayers.

Thirty homes are to be built at a cost of $9.5 million. That averages out to $316,666 per home. That's a tad higher than the average home cost in our area.

Most of the expense is in the form of tax credits given to private investors as an incentive to invest in poor communities. About $1 million of the total is money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. But whether it's money paid directly or taxes that are waived through a tax credit, it's still a huge expense for taxpayers.

This is not a criticism of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church or its development arm. They are making fair use of a government program that has existed for many years. No one disputes that these homes will fill a need in the community.

It's just unfortunate that, given the government's limited resources, the public is getting so little bang for their bucks. Can't the bureaucrats figure out a way to build more houses with $9.5 million?

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