The city of St. Louis has more than 25,000 vacant and abandoned properties, attracting crime and arson, lowering property values and reducing tax revenue for the city.
On Tuesday a coalition of neighborhood, city, and non-profit agencies announced the “Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative" at a press conference at Saint Louis University's School of Law.
"We have convened a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from neighborhood residents, neighborhood associations, academia, community and government leaders along with various community organizations that have been working together to create tools and resources to address the problem of vacancy in St. Louis,” said Sundy Whiteside, board president of the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations.
SLACO is one of nearly a dozen organizations taking part in the new coalition, including the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Rise Community Development, St. Louis Development Corporation and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, for instance, will expand its outreach to neighborhoods with high concentrations of vacant property.
“Legal assistance will be provided to neighborhood groups, and we will hold absentee and negligent property owners accountable through litigation,” Executive Director Dan Glazier said.
The coalition has already produced a resource guide for residents and neighborhood groups who want to take action. Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation and SLU's School of Law developed a plain language resource guide with a Regional Neighborhood Support Collaborative grant from Rise Community Development.
"We developed the guide to enable neighborhood leaders, local government agencies and other stakeholders to work together to address the vacancy challenge in our city,” said Dana Malkus, associate dean and professor in the law school. “These issues are often so complex that stakeholders are unsure of where to get started. This guide will help remove those roadblocks."
The report is available below:
Follow Melody on Twitter: @melodybird