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Public Corruption in Chester County, PA

I believe an unlikely mix of alleged drug trafficking related politicos and alleged white nationalist related politicos united to elect the infamous “Bloc of Four” in the abysmal voter turnout election of 2005. During their four year term the drug business was good again and white nationalists used Coatesville as an example on white supremacist websites like “Stormfront”. Strong community organization and support from law enforcement, in particular Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll has begun to turn our community around. The Chester County drug trafficking that I believe centers on Coatesville continues and I believe we still have public officials in place that profit from the drug sales. But the people here are amazing and continue to work against the odds to make Coatesville a good place to live.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Section 8 Housing Turning NIMBY on its head and Coatesville is exquisitely positioned to be the epicenter of the next real estate boom of Chester County.

It’s easy to see why the only people even remotely interested in the HUD and First Suburbs meeting on April 14, 2011, a pilot program by HUD to raise the Section 8 Voucher amounts in locations in South East Pennsylvania, are Coatesville residents.  It’s that old NIMBY-Not In My Back Yard thing again from the areas outside of the City of Coatesville. But there is another way to look at it that sort of turns NIMBY on its head.
First back to basics:
The rationale behind Section 8 Vouchers is to give low income people a chance to move to middle income areas where hopefully their family will have a better chance for a good education, access to jobs and maybe most importantly a chance to socialize with higher income people. President Reagan put the kibosh on that when he cut the Section 8 Voucher funds in half. From then on Section 8 Vouchers were basically only usable in areas with low real estate values. Another important fact is that the Section 8 Voucher amount is the same all across Pennsylvania and can be used anywhere in Pennsylvania.
Right now just about the only place in Chester County that Section 8 Vouchers can be used is Coatesville. Most of the rest of Chester County has property values too high for Section 8 Vouchers to be usable.
But here in Coatesville there is another thing called “Gentrification”. People here in Coatesville that are now using Section 8 Housing Vouchers are worried that the property values will go so high that slumlords will be put out of business. If the Section 8 Voucher amount does not go up and “Gentrification” does happen in Coatesville those people will be looking for low cost housing outside of Coatesville.
“Gentrification” probably is coming to Coatesville. It will take some time to happen. some 5 to 10 years. In the mean time what I think are predator slumlords like Amrit Lal, Ernie Campos, and several others that infect low income areas of Chester County may be finding “McMansions” property on sheriff sale lists that fits into their “business model”. When “Gentrification” does happen the people using Section 8 Vouchers probably will be able to find Section 8 Housing in the “Outer Suburbs” of Chester County.
“The Los Angeles Times reports that in one gated community in Hemet, east of L.A., McMansions with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings are being rented to poor families on Section 8 vouchers; according to the Washington Examiner, similar homes in Germantown, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., are being converted to boarding houses.” Brookings   
If Brookings is correct on their demographic projections and condos located close to rail transit become the most popular form of housing maybe those predator slumlords will be stalking the outer suburbs looking for a sheriff sale former trophy home to devour and convert to Section 8 Housing.
 “the two largest demographic groups in the country, the baby boomers and their children—together comprising half the population—want homes and commercial space in neighborhoods that do not exist in anywhere near sufficient quantity.” Brookings
“But the biggest factor, one that will quickly pick up speed in the next few years, is demographic. The baby boomers and their children, the millennial generation, are looking for places to live and work that reflect their current desires and life needs. Boomers are downsizing as their children leave home while the millennials, or generation Y, are setting out on their careers with far different housing needs and preferences. Both of these huge demographic groups want something that the U.S. housing market is not currently providing: small one- to three-bedroom homes in walkable, transit-oriented, economically dynamic, and job-rich neighborhoods.” Brookings
This is nothing new; the demographic shift away from car centered suburbs to cities and inner suburbs with public transit was seen decades ago. It is the primary reason that some very big time developers such as Don Pulver and Bart Blatstein are so very interested in the City of Coatesville. The other reason is that Coatesville is the major transportation hub in Chester County.

"The convergence of these two trends is the biggest demographic event since the baby boom itself. The first wave of boomers will be sixty-five in 2011. The largest number of millennials reaches age twenty-two in 2012. With the last of the boomers hitting sixty-five in 2029, this convergence is set to last decades. In addition to the generational convergence, the Census Bureau estimates that America is going to grow from 310 million people today to 440 million by 2050."  Brookings
 “When developers do propose to build denser projects, with narrower streets and apartments above retail space, they often run up against zoning codes that make such building illegal. Consequently, few compact, walkable neighborhoods have been built relative to demand, and real estate prices in them have often been bid up to astronomical heights. This gives the impression that such neighborhoods are only popular with the affluent, when in fact millions of middle-class Americans would likely jump at the opportunity to live in them.” Brookings
Coatesville has walkable neighborhoods and business areas now, an east-west interstate rail line in place that is fairly easy to add a commuter rail system to, a north-south line that with some work could carry passengers again, a regional business jet airport that is soon to have direct international flight capability and it's about to get what is called a WOW factor by community planners in the form of the National Velodrome and that is in an Olympic year. A key phrase from Brookings is:
"Consequently, few compact, walkable neighborhoods have been built relative to demand, and real estate prices in them have often been bid up to astronomical heights."
The largest demographic shift in US history has already begun. Coatesville will very shortly be exactly what that demographic is looking for.
In a nutshell, Coatesville is exquisitely positioned to be the epicenter of the next real estate boom of Chester County.

The other side to that demographic shift is that the next slums of Chester County are set to be in the rural suburbs of Chester County.

The  McMansions can hold their value. Immigrant Mexican families are following in the footsteps of the Polish, Italian and other immigrant groups before them. Mexican families are already writing "white" for race on the Census forms. They are building and investing in businesses and building wealth. Right now some Mexican Immigrant families and other immigrant families with large numbers of family members are buying up 6 and 7 room homes in Chester County. Unlike most McMansions buyers they actually have a need for a home of that size. If that upward mobility of Mexican American families trend continues the market value of large homes of the outer suburbs might not plummet and they might not be infected by predator slumlords.

Another way the outer more rural suburbs can hold some of their value is to adapt mass transit such as trolley lines to suburban subdivisions. Those trolley lines would very likely connect to railroad lines in, you guessed it; Coatesville.

But the bottom line for Coatesville residents is that Coatesville has a very long head start on mass transit and walkable streets. Like I have been saying for years, "Coatesville homeowners are sitting on a real estate gold mine.

HUD will base who gets into the pilot program in the flyer below on who shows up. People using Section 8 Vouchers that want to stay in Coatesville when and if "Gentrification" occurs need to show up at this meeting, People from Coatesville that care about those that struggle to survive on low incomes need to show up at this meeting:


The Next Real Estate Boom

Christopher B. Leinberger, Visiting Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program 
Patrick C. Doherty, Director, Smart Strategy Initiative, New America Foundation

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011

Kirby Hudson, the Acting City Manager of the City of Coatesville is giving us a chance to do something about, but WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We can get together to things like cleaning up the city. We need to show up at this meeting in a big way.

1 comment:

  1. Kirby Hudson has been effective in changing the status quo on Section 8, redevelopment, high taxes or pretty much anything that needed attending too since this article was written. We have over 51% of Chester County's Section 8 situated within 2 square miles, the City of Coatesville. And your correct Gentrification goes against the status quo of low property prices that facilitate low rent level Section 8 vouchers. I have nine rental properties, all have gainfully employed families living in them, none of whom are Section 8 participants.


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