Re-envisioned in 2016, Ascend STL Inc., formally the St. Louis Housing Authority Development Corporation, works with the large Housing Authorities in the St. Louis region to provide families with opportunities and resources to connect with quality housing in communities of their choice.
Ascend was founded in 1999 to help finance large housing developments through the federal HOPE VI program. In partnership with the St. Louis Housing Authority and other affordable housing developers, Ascend has helped to create twelve mixed-income affordable housing developments in the City of St. Louis.
In 2016, Ascend created the Mobility Connection program in partnership with the St. Louis Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of St. Louis County. The Mobility Connection program assists families with Housing Choice Vouchers to move to areas of high opportunity in St. Louis City and County. Motivation for the program came from new groundbreaking research that showed that helping families with vouchers move to low-poverty neighborhoods has significant impacts on families’ long-term health and well-being. Unfortunately, in the St. Louis region 40% of the 13,000 families with vouchers live in high-poverty neighborhoods where more than 30% of the residents live in poverty.
Few mobility programs that assist families with vouchers move to low-poverty neighborhoods exist in the country, and most are the result of legal action taken against Housing Authorities. Ascend’s Mobility Connection program was one of the first programs created voluntarily to help families move into high opportunity areas.