New Bill Proposes to Fight Vacant Properties

June 22, 2009

The city of St. Louis is leading the country in the number of empty houses per person. Recently, this number has grown even more due to the increase in foreclosures brought on by the mortgage crisis.  Empty homes lead to crime and can ruin entire neighborhoods.  The city of St. Louis is now working to fight this growing problem. 

Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a bill presented to the city’s Board of Aldermen.  The bill requires that owners of vacant buildings register those buildings and pay a fee each year the property remains empty.  To read the entire article about the proposed registry, CLICK HERE.

You can do your part to be a good neighbor.  Actions as simple as raking leaves or picking up trash around vacant properties can help keep your neighborhood safe.  Watch the Living St. Louis segment below to learn how the Spanish Lake community is working together to address the problem of abandoned homes in the neighborhood.  To learn how you can volunteer, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626—they’ll help connect you with trusted resources.

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Living St. Louis Spotlight on Credit Counseling

June 18, 2009

KETC’s Living St. Louis program recently featured a segment on credit counseling.  Producer Ruth Ezell follows the story of Laurie Ferrer and her family.  Like many other Americans, Laurie and her husband became dependent on their credit cards.  The Ferrer family was no longer able to pay the minimum balances on all their cards and their interest rates kept getting higher; eventually their debt became too much to handle.

But Laurie and her family sought help, and they found a solution to their debt problems at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (formerly known as ClearPoint Financial Solutions).  ClearPoint’s counseling services have already helped the Ferrer’s decrease their debt by 25% and they expect to be debt-free in three years.

You can watch the entire Living St. Louis segment HERE, or by watching the video below. 

If you or someone you know need credit counseling, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626—they’ll help connect you with trusted resources.  You can also contact one of our partners, ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, for help with credit card debt.


Mortgage Scams

April 20, 2009

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported today that the Missouri attorney general is suing two companies they believe are involved with mortgage scams.  To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

Over the summer Ruth Ezell did a Living St. Louis segment on mortgage scams.  You can check out the video below.

Legitimate housing counseling agencies won’t contact you or send out advertisements.  Their services also shouldn’t cost anything.  You should be wary of any company that seeks you out and/or that is charging you a lot of money for housing counseling.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, make sure you use a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.  To find one, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626.


Living St. Louis: Crown Candy

March 24, 2009

Ruth Ezell visits the Crown Square development project in North St. Louis City. The area located on 14th Street in the Old St. Louis Historical District was a once popular commercial area that lost its prominence, but is now being restored. Life-long resident John Bratkowski shares the street’s history, and Ezell speaks to community members and developers alike who are working together to help re-make the area, including Stephen Acree of the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, the organization that put together the funding for the project and is overseeing the construction. From now on it will be known as Crown Square, named after the old and popular Crown Candy store that is located there. Though the process had been long, neighborhood residents and developers are equally enthusiastic.


The Financial Crisis Explained, Part 2

March 13, 2009

A few days ago we posted the first of four clips from our town-hall call-in program that aired in January. In this second segment, Ruth Ezell talks to the panelists about credit cards—the dangers of using credit cards like cash, and the importance of understanding the terms of your credit cards. This clip also features information on neighborhood stabilization efforts and the proverbial American Dream.


The American Dream

March 12, 2009

In January 2009, KETC/Channel 9 gave students from St. Louis University Flip cameras to interview their friends and peers about their visions of the American Dream.  The videos are fantastic, and what I like most is the optimism of the students.  They realize that times are tough right now and that the economy isn’t doing well, but instead of viewing this as a roadblock, many students think the economy is just an obstacle–something that, with hard work, can be overcome.

To check out the videos, visit the American Dream section of our website where we’ve featured a few of the videos, including the Living St. Louis segment by producer Patrick Murphy.  To see all of the videos, check out our YouTube channel.


Tip of the Day: Municipal Code Enforcement (3/4/09)

March 4, 2009

Today’s tip features John Thro of the St. Louis County Problem Property Unit. Mr. Thro talks about the vulnerability of empty houses—he encourages people to call their city or county if there’s an abandoned or foreclosed home in their neighborhood that’s being neglected, because these homes are very vulnerable to theft or vandalism. The sooner the problem is taken care of, the better.