City, non-profits and legal services to help tackle vacant and abandoned property problems

ST. LOUIS - A push to clean up some of St. Louis City’s most run-down neighborhoods.

Several communities and non-profits are coming together to slam the door on vacant and abandoned properties.

“I got boys and they like to run around here and they venture off so I would hate for them to venture off and a porch is falling down,” said Deandre Brown who lives on California Avenue and Winnebago Street. Brown has lived in the south city neighborhood for 20 years and remembers it being much different back in the day.

“It was mom and pop stores on every corner, a hardware store it was real nice until everybody started doing drugs,” he recalled.

According to the city, there are over 7,000 vacancies lining the streets.

And that’s a major concern for Yuriah Lindsey who lives next to a few of them.

“Our property values go down but then insurance rates go up when it comes to living next to a vacancy building so the homeowner, me, I get hurt,” she said.

Elected leaders said that city never stopped recognizing the problem.

“We have a partnership with SLU, we have a partnership with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in order to really try to focus some effort on those buildings that are privately owned to encourage that owner to either fix that building up himself or sell it to someone who can,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson.

“What we are doing is that we are empowering neighborhoods to take action in court for the degradation of their properties and the real financial implications of living next to a vacant building and apply that to the property owners through legal services,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer.

Brown said he is relieved to know that steps are being taken to help improve the quality of life and will do his part to make that a permanent success.

“I know a lot of people who want to invest too,” he said, “you have a people out here who don’t have a lot of money but a lot of them are willing to spend some money on some of these properties and get them fixed up.”

Krewson said that some of the vacant buildings are too far gone to fix.

The Board of Aldermen is being asked to approve $3.7 million this year for demolition. Krewson said that doesn’t diminish as many buildings as one might think because it costs $8,000 to $10,000 apiece depending on the size of the structure. She added that the money will be used to demolish over 400 buildings and will go to the worst in shape first.