The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Vacancies and Crime

There is a major overlooked cause of crime in St. Louis, vacant foreclosed properties.

Much research shows that vacant properties not only cause deterioration of a neighborhood, but cause an increase in crime. These properties become attractions for criminals and vandals.

St. Louis has thousands of vacant foreclosed properties owned by a city agency, the LRA. These properties were usually foreclosed upon for non payment of taxes. This foreclosure process may take years, all the while keeping abandoned buildings on line. In addition, and equally important, it takes the city years to dispose of these properties, many of which should be razed. They lack the data systems to oversee this inventory and even know what they have in stock.

I worked for HUD selling foreclosed properties in Milwaukee. From that experience I learned certain lessons. Holding a property on the market in the hope of getting a better price is foolish, properties must be priced to sell quickly, investors must be activated to purchase properties,the private sector can be good partners, Urban Homesteading is a great tool to sell properties and bring homebuyers into the city, bulk sales are necessary, and good data and information is critical. Demolition must also be part of the mix. The City of St. Louis has done very little of these things. Written by Paul Dribin

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