Investment in Us

“If we don’t take care of the people we have now, we will never see our city grow.”

img_0227Millionaires and billionaires have received enough attention from city government. It is time for the city to start investing in its greatest asset: Us. There is no better investment than in small businesses, entrepreneurs, workers, and families who are the backbone of this city. I will focus on equitable growth by being a champion for small businesses, assisting St. Louisans in building assets, and reducing poverty.

The Fight Against Income Inequality

The city must enforce the right to earn a living wage and use every tool of government to do so.  Reducing the 6,600 vacant properties in the city and improving public transit access are two critical steps to increasing economic opportunities for many St. Louisans. As mayor, I promise to:

  1. Support local living wage ordinances
  2. Invest in year-round youth jobs
  3. Expand vocational opportunities
  4. Reduce vacant and distressed housing
  5. Expand public transit

Access to Responsible Banking and Credit

People sometimes ask me why I care so much about financial literacy. Financial literacy is personal for me because I want other to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced as a young adult. In 1999, in my twenties, I filed for bankruptcy. I am lucky to have found the needed resources to get on my feet. Now, I want to help others avoid financial issues and figure out what they need to succeed. I opened the City’s first Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) to help people avoid making the same mistakes I did. The OFE not only helps people prevent mistakes through free classes, but also gives people a second-chance. I gave myself a second chance to rebuild my life post-bankruptcy, and I hope that the office can help people clean up their credit and obtain second-chance bank accounts and gain/regain financial independence.

The average unbanked American family spends approximately 10% of their income on financial transactions each year. This is more money than these families spend on food. We can put money in the pockets of St. Louisans through financial literacy, access to responsible banking, and restrictions on predatory lenders. As mayor, I will:

  1. Expand the St. Louis Office of Financial Empowerment
  2. Place restrictions on predatory lending
  3. Expand the St. Louis College Kids Program
  4. Increase access to responsible banking

Jobs and Entrepreneurship 

St. Louis often tops the list of cities with the most startup activity. Incubators like T-Rex and Cortex and accelerators and programs like Arch Grants, the St. Louis Arch Angels, Yield Lab, and SixThirty (just to name a few!) have done invaluable work. Promoting and partnering with this ecosystem is crucial to the city’s success. The city must also work to expand opportunities for traditional mom and pop business that support neighborhoods. The next mayor must do everything she can to bring startups to the city and make it easier for startups and small businesses to thrive. In order to do this, I will:

  1. Connect Small Businesses to resources and business centers
  2. Simplify the business creation and permitting process for small business owners
  3. Support equitable innovation
  4. Require publicly subsidized projects to include onsite SLATE Job Centers
  5. Support Green jobs and the retrofit of old properties to support building a sustainable St. Louis (We can learn from Push Buffalo)
  6. Support access to affordable high speed internet, especially for low-income families

Homelessness

St. Louis has a homelessness crisis on its hands. The city bears the brunt of the region’s homeless population and must recommit to the 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness and address the root causes of homelessness. As mayor, I will support a Homeless Bill of Rights that will decriminalize homelessness and keep St. Louis aligned with HUD regulations. Biddle House is an excellent resource for the homeless, but it’s not enough. The city needs good, quality shelters in more places, with more beds, and more cooperation with groups like St. Patrick’s Center to end the cycle of homelessness. Denver, for example, is addressing homelessness with a day laborers program. Through providing a day’s work to the homeless, and the opportunity to be invited back the following day, people who would otherwise have a difficult time finding work are able to build employment histories and skills. Denver has learned that this reduces panhandling.

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