Deteriorating, abandoned unsecured buildings near schools. It's a dangerous problem in St. Louis, and it has parents worried about their children getting snatched up.
Five on Your Side has found vacant buildings that are not boarded up near several St. Louis schools including homes at the intersection of Kennerly and Cora next to Cote Brillante Elementary school, a house near Blair Avenue and Bremen near Clay Elementary, and another home near the intersection Farrah and North 14th Streets near Clay Elementary.
As of 2016, there are around 7,000 vacant buildings within the city of St. Louis. Of those 7,000, 2,792 vacant buildings are a part of the Land Reutilization Authority, St. Louis' land bank.
Several of these properties are privately owned and have been abandoned after not paying their taxes for as long as three years.
Abandoned houses near area schools
Maggie Crane, Deputy Director of Operations for the city of St. Louis, spoke of their balancing act when it comes to taking care of these buildings.
"Some are past the point of return, and that's a reality, but otherwise we're trying to save as many buildings as we can. We have some of the best brick and architecture in the entire United States. So it's a balancing act," said Crane. "We can't just tear down every single vacant building because there are people who come along and do beautiful, magical things with these buildings and really bring them back to life."
The city took part in a week-long session at Harvard by the Center for Community Progress, a national think tank on vacant land issues, followed by six months of direct technical assistance.
However, Harvard's report concluded that St. Louis' land bank has remained steady in size for the past four decades with about 11,000 vacant properties and lots.
The report also said the different stakeholders managing the vacant St. Louis properties are not coordinating their efforts, and that the city's problem properties have a lack of staff and sufficient resources. It also suggests using different laws to go after tax delinquent property owners.
But, the report did credit the city and community leaders for being willing to come up with viable solutions to reduce the number of vacant homes in the city. St. Louis city also created a task force to help revitalize and reduce a large number of vacant buildings and lots in the city.
You can view the report in its entirety below:
St. Louis vacant building study on Scribd