Our City has a serious vacant property challenge. To effectively address vacancy, we must understand and respond to the factors that cause and perpetuate it. Much of the story of vacancy in our city, like other cities, includes a legacy of racism, disinvestment, and disengagement that has led to a breakdown in trust. We know that vacancy can result from incomplete foreclosure, bankruptcy, prolonged probate or lack of proper probate, investors with little incentive to care, judgment proof owners, bank ownership, lack of resources to repair or redevelop, lack of value, the foreclosure crisis, sprawl and weak markets.1 In St. Louis, other contributing factors include population loss, an aging housing stock, detrimental prior public policies (e.g., redlining, deed restrictions), predatory investors, and other forms of disinvestment.2
The challenge is beyond any single institution’s ability to address. Over the past four years, City and neighborhood leaders have made concerted efforts to understand our vacancy challenge and the specific steps needed to address the challenge. As detailed on our website, this effort has produced key foundational reports and numerous recommendations (including, among others, Parcels and Peppers, recommendations from the Center for Community Progress, the Asakura Robinson St. Louis Land Bank Assessment, A Guide to Understanding and Addressing Vacant Property in the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Planning and Design Agency’s gentrification discussion paper, and Mayor Krewson’s Plan to Reduce Vacant Lots and Buildings in the City of St. Louis).
This multi-year effort has grown into what has come to be known as the St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative (VC), a coalition of partners committed to reducing vacant property in St. Louis. Reducing the negative impact of vacancy is a complex strategy that requires coordination to achieve a shared vision. The VC is not a stand-alone entity, but a coalition of community representatives, private and non-profit stakeholders, and local government agencies. The VC helps to coordinate existing vacancy efforts under one umbrella and encourages the public and private sectors to work together toward solutions in a comprehensive and coordinated way.
Malkus, Dana, St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative: 2019-2021 Work Plan. St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative, October 2019 https://www.stlvacancy.com/uploads/1/2/7/4/127463804/work_plan.pdf, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-25.