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Saint Louis Community Builders Exchange

September 14, 2016


The REAL Rental Housing Issue

By Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow at the Center for Community Progress

This column was originally published in the National Housing Institute's Rooflines blog.

We know a few things about the majority of very low-income renters: They live in private market housing, not tax credit projects or public housing. They receive no housing subsidies. They are paying far more than they can afford for what is too often substandard housing in distressed neighborhoods.

These statistics are well known, but we don’t think about them as much as we should, and often lose track of the human toll behind them.

Evicted by Harvard scholar Matthew Desmond tells that story. It’s a twofold issue: the most fundamental problem is that the economics of what poor people live on—from public assistance or low-wage jobs—are inadequate to afford what it costs to create or provide minimally decent housing. The 25th percentile rent in the United States—the low-end median rent, where one-fourth of the units rent for less and three-fourths rent for more—is $670 per month, which requires an income of $26,800 to afford. Even the most self-sacrificing landlord can’t pay off a mortgage, pay taxes and maintain a rental unit in decent shape for what a poor family can consistently afford to pay.

To read more of this week's op-ed, click here.

We invite readers to contribute to the civic conversation about community development in St. Louis by writing an op-ed for the Community Builders Exchange. Op-eds should be short (400-700 words) and provocative. If you have an idea for an op-ed, contact Todd Swanstrom at
St. Louis: "The New Startup Frontier"
St. Louis has received attention for recent upward trends in entrepreneurship, which contrasts patterns in many other parts of the country. According to FiveThirtyEight, the national startup rate fell in 2013 and 2014, but went up in a third of the nation's metro areas. St. Louis comes in second on a list of cities where startup rates improved the most between 2009 and 2014. According to the new Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs—produced by the Census Bureau, Kauffman Foundation, and Minority Business Development Agency—nearly a third of new businesses in Missouri are health-care related, and Missouri has a higher portion of women-owned startups than any other state. Click here to read more.

395 Acres in the Central Corridor Recommended For Blight Status
As a precursor to a redevelopment plan affiliated with Saint Louis University, a blight designation for 395 acres (610 parcels) in Midtown, Tiffany, and The Gate District has been recommended to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for approval. Development Strategies completed a blighting study that reported high vacancy rates (and accompanying crime problems), buildings in poor condition, a "functionally outmoded" street system, economic under-utilization, and environmental contamination in the study area. Click here to read commentary and analysis on this development from NextSTL's Alex Ihnen.

New St. Louis Community Credit Union Branch in Northwest St. Louis
St. Louis Community Credit Union has opened a new branch at Gateway Bank's old location in northwest St. Louis, the credit union's thirteenth branch in a high-poverty area. The Gateway Branch continues the credit union's mission to help low-income residents build wealth and good credit with services like second chance checking accounts and small dollar lending. Residents say the Gateway Branch feels similar to Gateway Bank, which closed in 2012 but was St. Louis's first black-owned bank when it opened in 1965. Click here to read the full story.

New Jobs Center Underway for Ferguson
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis broke ground this summer on the Urban League Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson. The site will provide space for the Urban League's Save Our Sons program, which works to provide workforce training and job opportunities to economically disadvantaged African-American men. The center will also offer training in asset building, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship and provide space to three other organizations: Better Family Life, Provident, and Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Various corporations have helped finance the center, including U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, which has invested $2 million in and donated $20,000 to the project. Click here to read more.

Project Connect Seeks Resident Input On Revitalization Strategies
Project Connect, an Action Plan being developed by the City of St. Louis and residents, is exploring strategies for reinvestment and revitalization in neighborhoods north of Downtown, including the new NGA West site. As a part of the Plan's development, Project Connect is holding a series of community engagement meetings to seek public input on programs and and initiatives that could maximize the community benefits of the project. The second public meeting will be held on September 26th from 5:30-7:30 pm. Click here for more information.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Crime Tracker Tool
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a new Crime Tracker App that can be used to track crimes by neighborhood in St. Louis City. The map can be toggled to view total crimes, property crimes, or violent crimes according to year-over-year change or crimes per capita. The tool shows that total crime has fallen in many city neighborhoods since February-July of 2015. Click here to access the tool and here to view documentation about the Post-Dispatch's data and methods.

New Community resource Guide from Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC
Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC (TGNCDC), together with STL Programs, has created a new community resource guide and directory for Tower Grove, Southwest Garden, and Shaw neighborhood residents. The guide brings previously scattered and disparate information together in one place across various categories, including area civic, homeowner, and renter resources; local businesses and religious services; city ordinances and home codes; and organizations offering business support and financial assistance. The guide supports goal #15 in TGNCDC's Framework and Vision Plan, which aims to connect residents to supportive services in the neighborhood. Click here to access the guide online.

St. Louis Photographer Documents The Effect of Interstates on Neighborhoods
Local self-employed photographer Michael DeFilippo has been photographing local highways in St. Louis neighborhoods since March of this year. DeFilippo notes that Interstates 44, 55, 64, and 70 cut through 41 of the City's 79 neighborhoods. His project's 60 photos take "a hard look at the town" by exploring the disruptive effects that highway construction can have on urban architecture, landscapes, and communities. Both DeFilippo and the highway system turn 60 this year. Click here to read the article from the Post-Dispatch and here to view the photo collection online.


2017 Missouri State Consolidated Plan Webinar
On September 20th from 10:00-11:00 am, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Housing Development Commission, the Department of Health & Senior Services, and the Department of Social Services will host a public meeting via webinar and phone to discuss the State's Consolidated Plan needs for 2017. Click here for more information.

Revitalizing Older Industrialized Cities: What Can the U.S. Learn from Europe?
Creating Whole Communities, the Public Policy Research Center, and Development Strategies will host a panel discussion on urban recovery and revitalization on September 21st from 4:30-6:00 pm. Special guest and visiting scholar Dr. Jörg Plöger, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Urban and Regional Development in Dortmund, Germany, will lead the conversation. A reception will follow from 6:00-7:00 pm. Click here to download a flyer and here to register.

It's A Big, Big World: Event From St. Louis REALTORS®
The Inclusion Advisory Group of the St. Louis REALTORS® hosts its annual It's A Big, Big World event on Friday, September 23rd. The event begins at 9:30 am with a presentation and discussion on housing issues and the related work and roles of the REALTORS® group. A multicultural fair with food trucks, artisans, prizes, and more follows from 11:00 am-2:00 pm. Click here for more information.

Investing in the Promise of North St. Louis
On September 27th from 5:00-6:30 pm, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) St. Louis will host a discussion on what recent developments like NGA's relocation, HUD's Promise Zone Designation, and new plans for residential development could mean for the neighborhoods of North St. Louis and the region at-large. Speakers will use the PechaKucha method to cover a variety of topics. Click here to register.

University of Missouri Extension Community Development Academy
The University of Missouri Extension's Community Development Academy builds the capacity of community-focused organizations through intensive, experiential training courses that help participants learn how to work collaboratively on community issues. This fall's Community Development Academy will be held September 26th-30th in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. For more information and to register, click here.

2016 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference
Registration ends September 21st for the Center for Community Progress's seventh national Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, to be held September 28th-30th in Baltimore, Maryland. This year's theme is "In Service of People and Place." Conference attendees will explore strategies for reclaiming vacant properties and strengthening neighborhoods facing vacancy, abandonment, and disinvestment. For more information, click here.

Vacant Properties Summit
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, SLU School of Law Legal Clinics, SLACO, and Thompson Coburn LLP are sponsoring a Vacant Properties Summit on Thursday, October 20th from 8:00 am-1:30 pm. The seminar will discuss legal tools for generating renewal of privately-owned vacant properties. Click here for details.


SLACO Sustainable Neighborhoods Program
Registration is open for the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program fall 2016 seminars from the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO). This series of four free seminars is offered at rotating locations in North and South St. Louis and covers various topics that encourage attendees to rethink the future of their neighborhoods. Sessions run through October 12th. Click here to learn more and register.

Landlord Training: Nuisance Abatement And Prevention
Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC is hosting a series of free Landlord Training workshops this year for all city landlords, investors, and other interested parties. This Saturday, September 17th, the training session will discuss nuisance abatement and prevention. The workshop will be held at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Avenue) from 8:30 am-12:30 pm. For more information, click here.

NPML Annual Fundraising Institute
This year's annual Fundraising Institute from UMSL's Nonprofit Management & Leadership (NPML) Program will be held September 26th-29th. This series of workshops highlights the most up-to-date information and ideas on fundraising practices. Attendees can select sessions of interest and register for each individually. Click here for more information.

Chancellor's Certificate in Planning and Zoning from UMSL
Registration is now open for UMSL's 2016 Chancellor's Certificate in Planning and Zoning courses, which run on Wednesday evenings from October 19th through December 7th. Modules are taught by senior planning professionals and cover planning practices, processes, and topics that are central to local government success. Click here for more information and here to register.

Asset Management Training from the Brown School of Social Work, NeighborWorks America
This three-course certificate program, Affordable Housing and Mixed Income Community Management, prepares professionals with key skills and knowledge to successfully manage property and services, maximize performance, and strategize sustainable growth. Courses can be taken as stand-alone opportunities or in pursuit of NeighborWorks America's "Asset Management Specialist" designation. Click here for details.


September 16
Forest Park Station Placemaking Transit Stop Walk Audit

September 16
North City Business Development Center Grand Opening

September 17
South Grand Fall Fest

September 17
St. Louis Public Radio MetroQuest

September 24
Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC All-In For Change Annual Poker Tournament

October 1
Grove Fest 2016

October 1 - 2
Historic Shaw Art Fair

October 8
Trojan Park Grand Opening



The Community Builders Exchange would like to highlight a map relevant to community development in each issue. Please let us know if you have a map that would be of interest to our readers.

This week, we are sharing maps that look at major job industries in St. Louis City. To view this week's map, click here. To view maps from previous editions of the Community Builders Exchange, click here


The St. Louis Community Builders Exchange is put out by the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, with the support of the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at UMSL, to bring you quality up-to-date community development information, analysis, and opinion.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health Prize awards up to $25,000 to local communities in recognition of outstanding efforts to prioritize community health and well-being. The Prize seeks to celebrate success stories that involve entire communities and "define health in the broadest possible terms." Applicants should note that this award is for work that has already been accomplished. Phase I applications are due November 3rd. Click here for more information.

Innovative Solutions To Food Insecurity
Missouri Foundation for Health and Incarnate Word Foundation are providing grants of up to $10,000 to fund St. Louis-region projects that create innovative community solutions to food insecurity. This funding opportunity is for new initiatives only and does not apply to community gardens or traditional farmers' markets. The deadline to apply is this Friday, September 16th. Click here to learn more.

Buckingham Pillar Grant Program
Clayton-based financial planning firm Buckingham is accepting applications for its 2016 Pillar Grant Program through next Wednesday, September 21st. These grants fund nonprofit organizations pursuing initiatives and projects that promote community development through entrepreneurship and wellness. Buckingham plans to award five to seven grants of up to $10,000 each. Click here to learn more and apply.

Spirit of St. Louis Women's Fund
The Spirit of St. Louis (SOS) Women's Fund, a collective giving and grantmaking organization and a component fund of the St. Louis Community Foundation, opens its 2016-2017 grant cycle on September 1st. SOS grants will be made to 501(c)(3) organizations focused on arts and culture, education, environment, health, and/or social services and are not restricted to initiatives focused on women. Letters of interest are due September 30th. Click here to learn more.

Economic Development Assistance Programs Federal Funding Opportunity
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is seeking opportunities to provide communities with construction, non-construction, and revolving loan fund investments to support economic development strategies built to create jobs, leverage private capital, and strengthen regional competitiveness in the global marketplace. Grants are provided under the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. Click here to learn more.

Surdna Foundation Grants For Urban Infrastructure
The Surdna Foundation's Sustainable Environments Program invites Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) from nonprofit organizations working to improve or overhaul outdated, overburdened urban infrastructure. Grant applications are currently being accepted to fund three main program categories: Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns, Urban Water Management, and Regional Food Supply. Favorable proposals will foster collaboration, focus on underserved communities, and/or encourage long-term investments and solutions. Click here for more information.

Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grants 
The Ben & Jerry's Foundation is seeking organizations to apply for year-long grants of up to $25,000. Applicants should be community-organizing groups that are working to address issues related to social and environmental justice, including sustainable and just food systems. Pre-proposals will be accepted from August 1st through October 14th. For more information, click here.

Sam's Club Community Grant Program
The Walmart Foundation's Community Grant Program is accepting applications for grants ranging from $250 to $2,500. Applicants should operate within the service area of a Walmart, Sam's Club, or other Walmart facility. Applications will be accepted through December 31st. For more information, click here.
Dutchtown South Community Corporation VISTA Community Empowerment Organizer
Dutchtown South Community Corporation (DSCC) is seeking an Americorps VISTA to join their team as a Community Empowerment Organizer. This role will work to empower residents and increase civic engagement in DSCC's service area by using graphic design tools and contact with residents to develop toolkits, facilitation guides, and community organizing structure. Click here to apply via the Americorps website. Applicants should contact DSCC Program Director Amanda Colón-Smith at by tomorrow, September 15th with questions or for more information.

Intern for the City of Maplewood
The City of Maplewood is looking for a candidate to fill an internship position that will extend through May of 2017. The intern will work with Ms. Rachelle L'Ecuyer, Community Development Director for the City of Maplewood, and will assist with projects related to economic development initiatives, Maplewood's Special Business District, event development and planning, public relations, social media, marketing, and advertising. Interested applicants should contact Ms. L'Ecuyer via email at

Easter Seals Midwest: Payroll Manager
Easter Seals Midwest is looking for a Payroll Manager to manage its payroll process and payroll-related activities. Primary responsibilities of this role focus on ensuring that employees are paid in a timely and accurate manner. Click here to access a full job description and here to apply via the Easter Seals website.

Urban Strategies: Part-Time Human Resources Generalist
Urban Strategies is seeking a part-time Human Resources Generalist to support its HR team with recruitment, onboarding, orientation, benefits and forms processing, and HR departmental compliance initiatives. Applicants should have strong familiarity with HR functions and good management and communication skills. Applications are due September 30th. Click here to read more. 

Beyond Housing: Community Land Trust Staff Accountant
Beyond Housing is seeking a Staff Accountant serve as part of the Community Land Trust accounting team. Central responsibilities of this role include a variety of bookkeeping and accounting functions for the 24:1 Community Land Trust and its subsidiaries. Ideal applicants will be adaptable, detail-oriented, and able to multitask and think critically. Click here for more information.

Beyond Housing: Director of Community Engagement
Beyond Housing is looking for a Director of Community Engagement to serve as a member of its management team. This role will work to ensure that community voice plays a central role in the organization's decision-making processes and oversee the systems and staff that connect Beyond Housing's clients, residents, and stakeholders to programs, services, and resources. For more information, click here.

Gateway Greening: Development Manager
Gateway Greening is looking for a Development Manager to lead its philanthropic efforts as a part of the organization's management team. Primary responsibilities include cultivation of a philanthropic and donor-centered culture, leadership and oversight of all fund development activities, and management of membership and corporate partners programs. This is a new position at Gateway Greening. Click here for the full job description.
Urban Institute Highlights Housing Preservation Strategies From Around The U.S.
The Urban Institute has released a new report featuring case studies of successful strategies for preserving affordable housing from various communities nationwide. The paper notes a loss of 2.4 million affordable rental units between 2001 and 2013 and reports that new construction has not kept pace with demand for affordable housing. As an alternative to new construction, affordable housing preservation has several benefits: it tends to be less costly, gives tenants an opportunity to stay in their homes, and works with existing land-use patterns. Preservation can require complex financial, policy-related, and collaborative strategies, though; this publication seeks to shed light on practices that work. Click here to access the report.
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