Housing | St. Louis Public Radio

Housing

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on Aug. 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance were married in 2009, they thought their right to live together as a couple was secure.

Now the two women are at the center of a landmark legal case against a St. Louis County retirement community. The same-sex couple was denied housing at Friendship Village in 2016 on the basis of a “Cohabitation Policy” that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, “as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

Lois Jackson, who lives in the Villa Lago housing complex in Spanish Lake, sits outside her apartment. Public housing residents have recently been banned from smoking inside their homes.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

James Parker has been smoking for more than six decades. But to keep his habit, he's had to make changes. Every time he smokes, he has to go outside his home in the Badenfest apartment complex on North Broadway in St. Louis.

Parker is one of the hundreds of smokers in St. Louis who can no longer light up in their homes. Residents and housing agencies are adjusting to a new rule from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development which bars residents from smoking within 25 feet of their apartments. Residents and housing advocates have criticized the policy and are worried it will result in more evictions.

Lawyers Kalilah Jackson and Sandra Park led a discussion in Maplewood informing residents of the city's nuisance ordinance.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Maplewood residents, equal-housing advocates and lawyers participated in a community discussion Wednesday about Maplewood’s controversial public-nuisance ordinance.

The event was organized by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC) and the ACLU of Missouri to inform Maplewood residents of their legal rights and encourage residents to urge state and local lawmakers to change nuisance laws. 

Latasha Johnson’s story is at the heart of a new “We Live Here” episode and a legal case that aims to level the playing field between Missouri tenants and landlords.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

What makes a particular place a liveable one?

That’s the question at the center of “Housing Defenders,” We Live Here’s newly released episode. It explores legal issues facing St. Louis landlords and tenants and is part of the podcast’s broader focus on fair and affordable housing this season.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with We Live Here co-host/producer Tim Lloyd about why such concerns are especially relevant for renters on a local level and how several attorneys are working on their behalf to try and change things.

City officials in Maplewood, Missouri forced Rosetta Watson from her home using a public nuisance ordinance. Watson is suing the city in federal court and her story is featured in the latest episode of We Live Here.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

We Live Here, the national-award winning podcast about race and class from St. Louis Public Radio and PRX, debuted its fourth season Thursday.  

The show, born out of the emotional turmoil and cultural upheaval of the Ferguson uprising, will break new ground this year.

Hosts Tim Lloyd and Kameel Stanley will spend the entire season exploring the intersection of race, class and housing in St. Louis, one of the nation's most segregated regions.

One of the topics of the 2018 Fair Housing Conference was on finding was to reduce the number of evictions in St. Louis.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

At the 2018 Fair Housing conference in St. Louis, panelists on Wednesday discussed ways to reduce the number of evictions in St. Louis, using community-centered initiatives.

The issue is examined in the report, "Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide," completed by For the Sake of All and the Equal Housing and Opportunity Council. The report focuses on ways to eliminate housing discrimination with St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The conference at UMSL commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

Lotus Avenue in the Kingsway West neighborhood of St. Louis was mostly white until the "white flight" era of the 1960s and 1970s.
Holly Edgell | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary George Romney once said a “white noose” encircled American cities, effectively trapping black families in neglected neighborhoods, while white families moved to thriving suburbs.

The phrase may be 50 years old, but it still fits. Housing discrimination and segregation persist in the metro St. Louis area, long after the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which signed into law a week after the assassination of Martin Luther King. 

Angela Lewis, left, listens while realtor Gail Brown explains how she arrived at a list price for the Lewis property in north St. Louis, in April 2018.
Holly Edgell / St. Louis Public Radio

Advocates concerned about persistent housing segregation in the region might question why promotional materials for the 2018 Fair Housing Conference use the word "celebrate" in reference to the Fair Housing Act.

"The reality is the racial segregation that we see everywhere in this country is the product of very explicit design by the federal state and local governments, intended to segregate the nation by race," said Richard Rothstein, ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

Rothstein, the keynote speaker, is the author of "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America."

What's the housing market looking like for millennials in St. Louis?
American Advisors Group | Flickr

Missouri could lose half a million dollars in federal housing funds because of a change to the state’s discrimination law passed earlier this year.

The new law, sometimes referred to as Senate Bill 43, primarily deals with discrimination in the workplace. It requires fired workers to prove discrimination was the main reason they lost their jobs — and not one of a few reasons. But it also places a higher standard on people making housing discrimination claims.

What's the housing market looking like for millennials in St. Louis?
American Advisors Group | Flickr

Millennials are accused of a lot of things, not the least of which being that they don’t want to/can’t buy homes. Is this truly the case? And is it the case in St. Louis?

According to Barry Upchurch, the 2017 President of St. Louis REALTORS, that couldn’t be further from the truth in St. Louis. Homebuyers in the millennial generation make up 40 percent of those who own homes in the St. Louis region, he said.

Patrons sit on Iowa Street outside Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On April 30, Francis Rodriguez, the owner of Yaquis on Cherokee, was drawn to his apartment window by a commotion outside on Cherokee Street. Rodriguez lives above the pizza parlor and, as shots rang out, he and his wife dropped to the floor. After a pause, he ran downstairs to check on the restaurant, where people didn’t immediately recognize the sound of gunfire.

“They're still playing music in here. They didn't hear the shots upstairs that are right outside the door,” he said. “But just as I open up the back door from our apartment and hear people start raising the alarm in here [Yaquis] and so people started screaming and falling onto the floor.”

Landlords recruited to rent to St. Louis' homeless veterans

Apr 7, 2017
Moments after recieving the keys to his new apartment, Nicholas Palazzolo checks out the living room and balcony.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nicholas Palazzolo has been living in his truck since late November last year. At age 73, spending the coldest months of the year in a vehicle isn’t easy — but Palazzolo keeps his situation in perspective.

“I had it easy by comparison,” said Palazzolo. “There are others that are going through some pretty horrific times for an infinite variety of reasons.”

File photo | Cathy Carver

The city of Maplewood faces a federal lawsuit for alleged discriminatory housing practices against black and disabled residents and victims of domestic violence.

The city's "chronic nuisance ordinance," which was instituted in 2006, is enforced "selectively" and ignores "similar conduct" by residents who aren't African-American, according to the lawsuit filed late Monday by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, or EHOC.

Jacqueline Hutchinson, Co-Chair of the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance SLEHCRA coalition, discussed Tuesday a new report that indicates significant racial and income disparities in home purchase lending in St. Louis.
Wiley Price | The St. Louis American

Amid a long stretch of boarded-up store fronts in the Baden neighborhood, a coalition of equal-housing advocates rallied outside today to decry the mortgage lending disparities in the St. Louis region.

A slide from a presentation during an April 2015  fair housing conference shows how Section 8 vouchers are concentrated in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County, and that most voucher holders are black.
courtesy Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Housing officials have spent months educating renters and landlords about a new St. Louis ordinance — one designed to protects those using government rental vouchers.

But, according to the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, some landlords are still ignoring the rule and denying homes to people who get the government's help to pay their bills.

Pruitt-Igoe, with the Vaughn Housing Complex at right
U.S. Geological Survey

A researcher with the Economic Policy Institute says the federal government needs to recognize that it played a deliberate role in creating racially segregated neighborhoods in cities like St. Louis.

At a Missouri History Museum Symposium Saturday, the think tank’s Richard Rothstein drew a direct line between today’s segregated schools and neighborhoods and two federal housing programs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s: public housing and subsidized construction.

Sparkle Burns, a community coach with Jobs Plus, entertains Kylie Short while the 9-month-old's mother works on her resume at Clinton-Peabody's Al Chappelle Center in December 2015.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

At 53, Lucretia Hollins is older than your average cheerleader. But that, in essence, is what she’s paid 20 hours a week to be. Hollins encourages her neighbors to sign up — and stick with — a new job-training program at their public housing complex, the Clinton-Peabody in St. Louis' near south-side.

“It’s not so much about the paycheck. It’s about being able to help somebody else,” said Hollins. “Because I know where I was at, and you can’t let your circumstances in life take you out.”

A water stain on a basement wall.
provided by EPA

Indoor mold can pose a health hazard for people with allergies, asthma or lung illnesses. But there are few regulations for what St. Louis area landlords are required to do about it.

Lee Camp, an attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, estimates that a quarter of his housing cases involve disputes with a tenant and their landlord over mold.   

A new report finds the rate of homeownership among foreign-born residents in St. Louis is lower than the nation's.
Jim Larrison | Flickr

As St. Louis leaders are looking to turn the city into the fastest-growing metro region for immigrants in the next few years to spur economic growth, a new report shows that a majority of the city's foreign-born residents don't own their own homes. 

Little boy trying spinach.
Veronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A single school is like an entire community.

You've got the mayor, or principal. There is the general population, the students and their parents. There's a grocery store in the form of a cafeteria. And the teachers are kind of like doctors and police officers rolled into one. Within that batch of characters, there are gossips and scofflaws; actors and judges; even engineers and critics.

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