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St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative Newsletter
Welcome to the August issue of our newsletter! 

Read on for more detailed updates on what's happening related to vacancy in St. Louis and continued ways to engage with the Vacancy Collaborative.
Legislative Wins!
On July 9th, Governor Parson signed SB 203 into law. The legislation provides neighborhood groups and residents with more tools to address the problems associated with vacant property. The law:
  • Makes it easier for neighborhood associations to file private nuisance lawsuits against neglectful property owners;
  • Increases leverage for neighborhoods to address commercial and industrial nuisance by requiring the neglectful property owner to pay the legal costs;  
  • Includes a new "Good Samaritan" law that protects residents from trespass liability when entering upon certain types of vacant nuisance properties to make limited improvements (pick up trash, cut the grass, secure the property, etc.)

Thanks to a cross-state collaboration, Senator Jamilah Nasheed (St. Louis) and Senator Kiki Curls (Kansas City) were able to pass this legislation, creating powerful new tools for neighborhoods on both sides of Missouri!

Special thank you to Paul Brown of Thompson Coburn, LLP (and Vacancy Collaborative member) who dedicated dozens of hours towards getting this bill passed. 



Behind Governor Parsons, L to R: Paul Brown, Partner at Thompson Coburn, Jason Groce, Legislative Director for Senator Jamilah Nasheed, Senator S. Kiki Curls.


In Jefferson City in February 2019 to testify in support of the legislation. L to R: Fatimah Muhammad, Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, Ana de Jesus and Michael Duffy from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Peter Hoffman, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Tara Aubuchon, Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis.
St. Louis in Atlanta in October

The Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference (RVP) is the only national conference dedicated to strengthening communities through new strategies to transform vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties into community assets. 

The 2019 conference is being held in Atlanta, GA in October and several local faces will be part of the expert sessions:

"Creative Techniques for Selling Publicly Held Real Estate Inventories" including a presentation on the Finest 15 program by Eltoreon Hawkins and Angela Drake

"Utilizing Nonprofit Legal Partnerships to Strengthen Neighborhoods" including presentations by Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Peter Hoffman, and Dutchtown South Community Corporation's Amanda Colon-Smith (and moderated by SLU Law's Dana Malkus).

"Deconstruction, Demolition, Mothballing: Pros and Cons in St. Louis and Milwaukee" including a presentation by Laura Ginn of St. Louis Development Corporation.

Learn more about all the sessions here, and register to attend here. If you're planning on attending the conference in Atlanta, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri is hosting a pre-conference conversation on September 19th from 8:00-9:00 at their offices, 4232 Forest Park Ave. 

Buy a t-shirt to support Finest 15!
Finest 15 is fundraising to support their trip to Atlanta as session speakers. Buy a t-shirt or make a donation here (scroll down for the t-shirt form). 

Job Openings

Justine Petersen is looking for a Housing Manager to oversee the Gateway Neighborhood Mortgage program which provides loans to qualified borrowers to purchase and improve homes in neighborhoods with depressed home values. You can read more about the purpose of the program in this recent coverage by the Post-Dispatch.

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri is hiring for two positions in its Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative (NVI). NVI seeks to improve the quality of life for residents in disadvantaged St. Louis neighborhoods by directing legal resources to place-based community organizations to support housing development and transform vacant property into safe and affordable housing. Positions include a Staff Attorney and a Legal Services Coordinator/Paralegal.

Vacancy in the News
There have been a lot of vacancy-related articles in the last several weeks. Some highlights:

One Year Update
Check-in on vacancy efforts with a special focus on what's been happening in the year since Mayor Krewson's vacancy plan was released. 

Non-Profit Legal Assistance
An update on legal support to address privately owned vacant properties highlighting the work of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and SLU Law. 

St. Louis Blight Authority
Coverage of the launch of St. Louis Blight Authority, an effort started by St. Louis native Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, and Bill Pulte, a Detroit philanthropist, included several opinion pieces including this one in MetroSTL, an op-ed by the Post-Dispatch, and the Vacancy Collaborative's Vacancy Advisory Committee own response.
Fill out the Survey or Attend a Public Meeting

How should the City of St. Louis invest up to $100 million over the next five years?
Affordable Housing • Home Repair Assistance • Job Training • Crime Reduction • Youth & Elderly Programs • Abandoned Property Maintenance • Neighborhood Improvements • Small Business Loans

The City is developing a plan for 2020-2024 on how they should use their funding from HUD. There are two ways to provide your input:
Attend a public meeting or complete an online survey.
 
August 7, 6-8 pm
at Thomas Dunn Education Center, 3113 Gascondade Street, 63118 
August 12, 6-8 pm
at SLACO, 5888 Plymounth Ave, 63118
August 14, 6-8 pm at
UMSL Grand Center, 3651 Olive Street, 63108
August 15, 6-8 pm at
O'Fallon Park Rec Complex, 4343 W. Florissant Ave, 63115
 
Online survey for City residents: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/stlconplan

Pledge Your Support!

The work of the Vacancy Collaborative includes a host of groups and hundreds of individuals engaging in creating a shared vision for addressing vacancy in St. Louis. The power of the Vacancy Collaborative is this diverse and growing coalition of partners, and we want to recognize your involvement! Head to https://www.stlvacancy.com/pledge to join our network so we can recognize your involvement.

The pledge does not require financial support; simply sign on to our shared values and commit to being part of the solution in our collective work. By taking the pledge you’re joining the diverse community that is working to address vacancy, improve our communities, and build a shared vision for the future.

Working Groups
For up-to-date details on all the working groups, you can always visit our events page for more information. 

Vacancy Data
Tuesday, August 27 from 4:30 - 6:00 pm
UMSL at Grand Center, 3651 Olive St, Room 104 (the Learning Studio)
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Andrea Burr at andrea.burr@slu.edu

Marketing & Engagement
Thursday, September 5 from 12:00 - 1:30 pm
SLU Law, 100 N. Tucker Blvd, Room 116
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Dana Malkus at dana.malkus@slu.edu

 

Anti-displacement
Thursday, August 22 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm
O'Fallon Park YMCA, 4343 West Florissant Ave
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Matt Ampleman at stldisplacementwg@gmail.com
 

Vacancy Prevention
Thursday, August 15 from 4:00 - 5:30 pm
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, 4232 Forest Park Avenue
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Peter Hoffman at pjhoffman@lsem.org

 

Reinvestment and Reuse
Tuesday, September 3 from 10:00 - 11:30 am
UMSL at Grand Center, 3651 Olive St, Room 104 (the Learning Studio)
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Vince Schoemehl at vincestlouis@gmail.com

 

Stabilization, Maintenance, & Demolition
Thursday August 29 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm 
Location TBD.
Questions or to be added to the group email list: Laura Ginn at ginnl@stlouis-mo.gov
Other Community News & Events

Fundraiser for Peace Park Kicks off!
The residents of the College Hill neighborhood in North St. Louis have a vision for Peace Park – one that will brighten their community and give their neighbors and families a place to relax and connect with each other and with nature. Working with Grace Hill Settlement House and Health Equity Works at Washington University, residents became determined to renovate a vacant block along North Grand, once known as Peace Park. Their community-led effort continues to grow. Watch their story, support their effort and share their vison.

Apply by Aug 30: Neighborhood Leadership Academy 
More than 300 community leaders from throughout the St. Louis region have participated in the Neighborhood Leadership Academy, learning the skills and building the networks to create whole communities.  The Academy provides hands-on leadership training that emphasizes community building principles and strategies, organizational leadership and management practices and personal leadership skills. More information here.

Webinar- Sep 4, Deadline to apply- Sep 30: for Local Foods, Local Places Technical Assistance
EPA invites communities and non-profits interested in revitalizing neighborhoods through development of local food systems to apply for Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance. Local Foods, Local Places supports projects that create vibrant main streets and mixed-use neighborhoods, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and main street businesses, and improve access to healthy, local food. Highest consideration will be given to those communities who can identify how assistance will leverage an Opportunity Zone designation to support implementation of the resulting action plan. See the complete application instructions and join a webinar on September 4, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern time, for an overview of the program and the selection criteria. 

Sep 13, Oct 18, & Nov 8: EPA Real Estate Development Academy for Communities
Join the RE-Development Academy for Communities, a three-part FREE webinar series where you will learn the process for redeveloping a contaminated site through the eyes of a property developer. Meant for community members, local governments, community nonprofits, other local stakeholders, technical assistance providers, etc. Learn about: Factors that motivate or discourage development of contaminated properties; how & when developers make decisions; special issues to consider (compatibility of site cleanup & reuse, contaminant type & location, institutional or engineering controls, etc.); pre & post redevelopment activities, determining cost & return on investment.

Sep 21 and Oct 26: Operation Clean Sweep
The next two Operation Clean Sweep events will be September 21st in the Ville and October 26th in Walnut Park. This public-private partnership includes local businesses partnering with Better Family Life, the City of St. Louis, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and others to address blight in North St. Louis. To sign up to help and join hundreds of fellow volunteers, visit Better Family Life's website
 

Submit your Events!
Have community news or events related to vacancy that you want to share with the Vacancy Collaborative community? Email tara@communitybuildersstl.org to share your information for this newsletter. 
What is the Vacancy Collaborative?
The Vacancy Collaborative (VC) is a coalition of partners committed to the reduction of vacant property as a top priority in St. Louis. The VC is not a stand-alone entity, but a coalition of community representatives, private and non-profit stakeholders, and City 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. Head to www.stlvacancy.com for more information.

Support
Funding to support coordination of the Vacancy Collaborative was provided, in part, by Missouri Foundation for Health, the Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis.
Copyright © 2019 Vacancy Collaborative, All rights reserved.


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