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Vacant, crumbling properties balloon to 7,100

A St. Louis city sweeper runs along Bishop P.L. Scott Avenue, seen from the burned shell of a home in the 3900 block of Aldine Avenue in the Greater Ville neighborhood on Friday, March 16, 2018. More than 7,000 buildings are vacant, and many falling apart, in the city of St. Louis. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Want to learn more about the vacancy and property abandonment problem in St. Louis? Here are links to a handful of reports, studies and other resources that may prove helpful:

FIND A VACANT • The Vacancy Collaborative — an initiative by area nonprofit groups, city agencies and other community stakeholders — recently launched a website that maps more than 20,000 vacant or abandoned buildings and lots. Users can learn the property's history, and link to other databases with more information. Find the map here: https://www.stlvacancy.com/map.html

EVEN BIGGER PROBLEM? • In this recent paper, three sociologists — including two at St. Louis University — contend published estimates of the number of vacant parcels in the city may be too low. Their methodology is explained in “St. Louis's 'Urban Prairie': Vacant Land and the Potential for Revitalization,” which can be found here: https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/bc7eh/

THE MAYOR'S PLAN • Lyda Krewson, who served on the Board of Aldermen for 20 years before she was elected mayor in 2017, calls vacancy reduction a top priority for her administration. In July, she released “A Plan to Reduce Vacant Lots and Buildings.” It can be found online here: https://bit.ly/2L8yflr 

FIGHTING CRIME • About 15 percent of the land in U.S. cities is classified as vacant or abandoned, an area equivalent to the size of Switzerland. Vacant, abandoned buildings and lots are seen as a threat to health and safety for urban residents. This study suggests remediating vacant urban land will “significantly reduce gun violence, crime, and fear.” Read the study, published in early 2018 by PNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), here: http://www.pnas.org/content/115/12/2946

WE'RE NOT ALONE • This analysis, produced this year by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, looks at hypervacancy in a number of major cities, including St. Louis, and offers some defining characteristics. The report is available here: https://bit.ly/2mSipRe 

A BETTER WORD • In this CityLab essay published in 2017, staff writer Brentin Mock argues that the word "blight" carries a lot of baggage — “usually as a pretext for some kind of drastic project that results in massive displacement” — and should be used judiciously. Read it here: https://bit.ly/2vIthpH

FIXING LRA • This report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, titled “St. Louis Land Bank Assessment,” looks at some of the challenges faced by the 47-year-old Land Reutilization Authority — and makes recommendations for improvement. It's online here: https://bit.ly/2LWnOkv 

ARMS CONTROL • Want to reduce gun violence in the city? Urban blight remediation programs — targeting abandoned buildings and vacant lots — may offer an answer, according to this paper published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2016. Find it here: https://bit.ly/2MLmSom 

UNEQUAL AND UNEVEN • Academics J. Rosie Tighe and Joanna P. Ganning studied St. Louis development policy, and found city strategies worked to "devastate poor and minority communities, while leaving white and middle-class communities largely intact." A link to their 2015 study, "The divergent city: unequal and uneven development in St. Louis," can be found here: https://bit.ly/2QzF6av

A PRIMER • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban produced a useful overview of vacancy and property abandonment issues in 2014. It's available here: https://bit.ly/2wKQmZv 


Previously, about illegal dumping:

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