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February 2021 Updates
What is the cost of Racial Bias?

In 2018, the Brookings Institute published a report called, "The devaluation of assets in black neighborhoods:
The case of residential property

The report explores the cost of racial bias in the real estate market. The authors found that owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.  
These losses undoubtedly played into the creation and perpetuation of high-vacancy neighborhoods. As we continue to work towards a more equitable St. Louis, we can never forget the enormous disinvestment that afflicts Black neighborhoods. 

Thanks to all who donated to the Vacancy Collaborative's end-of-year campaign! In total, more than $6000 was raised to continue implementing tools that prevent resident displacement, hold vacant property owners accountable, and support reinvestment in vacant buildings. 

We are humbled by the kindness and emboldened by the support! Because of our donors, we can accomplish more in 2021!
You can still donate if you are so inclined :) 
Mayoral Priorities for Vacancy
The Vacancy Collaborative identified three recommendations that the next mayor should prioritize:
  • Designating a cabinet level position dedicated to institutionalizing cross-departmental coordination and leading a strategy to tackle our vacant property challenge and prevent further vacancies. 
  • Increasing the capacity and role of the City Counselor’s Office, specifically in the Problem Properties Section 
  • Ensuring proactive, equitable development and incentives in conjunction with neighborhood-based planning efforts supported by a strong and funded Planning and Urban Design Agency.
We have shared these directly with each of the candidates, and have invited them to meet with for further discussion.
Upcoming Events & Announcements
Next Up: Avoiding Liability. Tuesday February 23rd @ 6:30pm via Zoom
These free, monthly trainings are funded by a HUD Community Development Block Grant via the St. Louis Community Development Administration and coordinated by Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC, North Newstead Association, and the Vacancy Collaborative. Register Here.

Wednesdays from 6:00-8:30 pm starting Feb. 24th
This series explores strategies and actions related to preventing displacement while supporting reinvestment in the West End. The series will be hosted online via Zoom. This is a five part series, taking place from February 24th - March 31st. Register Here

Vacancy Advisory Co-chair Sundy Whiteside named MU Extension Leader Honoree for St. Louis
Sundy Whiteside, SLACO Board President and Vacancy Advisory Committee Co-chair, is being honored by MU Extension in St. Louis County for her leadership. She will be honored at The Annual Dinner for MU Extension in St. Louis County on Friday February 26, 2021. 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM CST. Tickets for the event are $25-$50. Register Here.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis' Community Innovation and Action Center and several partners, including Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, the St. Louis City Senior Fund and the St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative, will begin studying home repair needs for older St. Louis homeowners with the help of a $178,000 grant from the RRF Foundation for Aging. Photo by Jessica Rogen

Vacancy Collaborative Receives Grant from Missouri Foundation for Health to Conduct Code Enforcement Mapping

The Vacancy Collaborative, including partners such as the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri , and St. Louis City’s Building Division, Neighborhood Stabilization Team, and Problem Properties Unit received a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to lead a collaborative process for housing code enforcement mapping. The goal of the project is to improve responses to vacant properties.
A New Model for Reclaiming Vacant Properties and Stabilizing Neighborhoods

Vacancy Collaborative Featured in Univercities Exchange Panel Discussion: Urban Vacancy and Abandonment in the Show-Me-State 

Watch the recording of Vacancy Collaborative partners and their Kansas City equivalents talk about the origins of urban vacancy and what leaders in both cities are doing to address it. 

Other Announcements & Events

Collaborators Launch Neighborhood Toolbox

The digital Neighborhood Toolbox has two initial tools: the STL Community LAB (a compilation of educational trainings to advance community development knowledge) and the STL Neighborhood Organization Map The Marketing & Engagement Working Group of the Vacancy Collaborative helped organize the map as part of the VC's 18-month work plan.

Business Models Workshop

CBN & the St. Louis Promise Zone are coordinating a workshop series for place-based organizations to help them develop sustainable business models that can support their organizations & the neighborhoods they serve. The first segment will focus on residential real estate & will take place Mar. 13 through Apr. 3. Applications to participate are due Feb. 26. Click here to apply or learn more!

Peace Park Virtual Town Hall

Green City Coalition (GCC) is a hosting a Virtual Town Hall on March 4 that will include updates to the Peace Park project in the College Hill Neighborhood. Event starts at 5:30pm. You can register here or plan to watch it on Facebook Live. Visit GCC's website for more information.

Nominations to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The NEJAC was chartered to provide advice regarding broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice. EPA is seeking nominations to fill approximately 7 new vacancies for terms through September 2022. 

Submit Your Updates & Events!

Have community news or events related to vacancy that you want to share with the Vacancy Collaborative community? Email to share your information for this newsletter.  


Join us at a Working Group Meeting

You can find out more information about our upcoming working groups here.
In the News

Sundy Whiteside Featured in Video Feature about the Walnut Park East Neighborhood, Vacancy in North St. Louis
Sundy Whiteside, Vacancy Advisory Committee Co-chair, was the subject of this video feature about the toll that high rates of vacant properties inflict upon neighborhoods and communities. Sundy appeals to all St. Louisans to get involved to help.  

Preserving the Past, Shaping the Future
Michael Allen, director of Preservation Research Office and a senior lecturer in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University was featured in this piece from theSTL about St. Louis' historic architecture and how preserving our housing stock is incredibly important!
Photo By Michael Thomas 

Dana Malkus, Marketing and Engagement Working Group Co-chair, Pens Op-"Disinvestment and crime have common cure — community"

Dana Malkus, Professor at Saint Louis University Law School and Vacancy Advisory Committee Member penned this op-ed to highlight how strong and supported place-based groups can lead to reductions in crime and vacancy.


How one north St. Louis neighborhood is rebuilding. ‘Game-changer for our city,’ says advocate

The Tabernacle Community Development Corp., is spending $1.2 million to turn 3000 East Prairie Avenue into a community resources center. Pastor Andre Alexander, president of Tabernacle, discusses keeping property tax increases in check for existing residents and rebuilding the housing stock in a neighborhood devastated by vacancy and population decline.  Photo By: Colter Peterson 

America’s Vacant Lot Landscape: Insights from the National Survey on Greening

How are vacant lots evolving in the United States? What strategies do practitioners consider most effective at returning purpose to these properties? What have practitioners learned in the last several years that other municipalities and organizations can benefit from? And what do organizations still need to do this work effectively? Checkout this report from the Center for Community Progress and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health to learn what 119 organizations across 27 states shared on new trends, tactics, and lessons on maintaining and greening vacant lots

We Live Here Series Explores Environmental Racism and Demolition

Last week, St. Louis Public Radio's Podcast: "We Live Here" released its firtst episode of their new series which explores Environmental Racism in St. Louis. The first episode is called "Farm Dreams & Toxic Dust" and focuses on the air quality of areas close to the demolitions of vacant buildings. Photo Credit: David Kovaluk

Readings and Webinars
Telling the Vacancy Story: 
We have a new story for you to check out!  Vacancy Collaborative team member, Ronald Jones, interviewed Keith Crawford from the North Pointe Neighborhood.

Vacancy Readings: checkout our news and updates page to find our newsletters and media stories about vacancy. Next, take a deeper dive and check out the literature that informs our work.

Vacancy Reading Group 
The vacancy reading group meets monthly. All are welcome! Contact Dana Malkus ( for more information.
Blast From the Past!
In February 2020, the Vacancy Collaborative launched its new website, was written about in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and held an ~in person~ breakfast with the Board of Alderman!
It Takes a Coalition

The City of St. Louis is home to an estimated 25,000 vacant properties. Addressing this challenge will take all of us working towards a shared vision.

This includes you!

The power of the Vacancy Collaborative is in our diverse and growing coalition of partners. 

Find Out How YOU Can Get Involved! 

What is the Vacancy Collaborative?
The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative (VC) is a coalition of community members, private and non-profit stakeholders, and City agencies committed to reducing vacant property in St. Louis. The VC helps to coordinate existing vacancy efforts under one umbrella and empowers the public and private sectors to work together toward solutions. We convene committees and working groups to facilitate systemic change, advance new policies, share success stories, and support neighborhood-centric solutions. Head to for more information.

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 © 2021 Vacancy Collaborative, All rights reserved.

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