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Plan to help residents buy vacant properties meets some skepticism

KINGSWAY EAST – A proposed plan for potential monies next year to help residents buy the city’s Land Reutilization Authority properties is being met with excitement and skepticism. 

Residents at the monthly Fourth Ward meeting were excited because it was said that $30,000 would go toward their purchase of a city-owned single-family home. A total of $50,000 would be allotted for a two-family dwelling. 

The money would come from a bank of $40 million raised by property tax increases after the passing of Proposition NS (Neighborhood Stabilization) two years ago. It was meant to raise funds for rehabbing the LRA properties. 

A share of those monies would be earmarked for what was described as predevelopment rehabbing of the units. That includes making them structurally sound and water-tight. 

Skepticism moved into the meeting room at the Salvation Army, 2618 N. Euclid Ave., when the giddy residents were told the next step. 

After the predevelopment rehab, the potential buyer would then have to rebid on the property after an initial nomination and bid. That means that the interested and

Sundy Whiteside, board president of the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, explains a proposed initiative to help with purchasing city-owned LRA homes, at a Fourth Ward meeting Sept. 28, 2019, at the Salvation Army at 2618 North Euclid Ave. She also passed out surveys for a anti-displacement group aimed at helping renters and homeowners.
seemingly vested party could be out-bid. However, the bidding price would not increase after the initial repairs are completed.  

“Oh, that’s the catch,” said Ville resident Caroline Moore. “I knew there had to be a catch.” 

“We can’t operate from a position of fear,” said Sundy Whiteside, board president of the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, or SLACO. 

Whiteside, who wears many community hats, also spoke on behalf of the year-plus-old Anti-Displacement Working Group. It’s part of the Vacancy Collaborative, a multi-pronged group of public-private partnerships among the city, local universities, community organizations and residents. 

The aim of the Anti-Displacement Working Group is to keep St. Louis homeowners and renters from being forced out of their homes. 

She passed out survey sheets for residents to list issues that would potentially displace them. 

“We need data. This information gives us valid cause to receive services. We want residences to have their say,” Whiteside said. 

Daniel Pate, who also attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the Anti-Displacement Working Group, said they were in the process of figuring out how to best assist people who need support to avoid being displaced because of a variety of issues. 

Some of those issues, he said, include property tax increases, raised rent and gentrification. 

“We’re tying to set it up so that there’s a tool kit for renters and homeowners,” Pate said. 

Some at the meeting objected to senior age being a requirement to get help with home repairs. 

Pate agreed that there wasn’t enough concern for current city residents in general.  

“There seems to be a lot of talk about what’s going to be done to bring new people, businesses and investment, and not a lot of discussions about lifting the people in the community up and making sure they have a choice about the communities they live in,” he said.

Fourth Ward Committeewoman Dwin Evans said, “If it is good for our community, then we are all for it.” 

Bill Beene

bill.beene@thenorthsider.com Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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