In St. Louis, Missouri, REALTORS® have a profound reminder of past prejudicial real estate practices in the Shelley House, the property at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case of Shelley vs. Kraemer, which gave way to the Fair Housing Act 20 years later. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of that breakthrough legislation, St. Louis REALTORS® engaged into local projects benefiting underserved communities with grants from the REALTOR® Party and Missouri REALTORS®.
“Origins of the Fair Housing Act can be traced back here in St. Louis,” notes Dawn Seabaugh, Director of Communications of the 8,000-member St. Louis REALTORS®, “and it’s crucial to note how it’s helped in strengthening our local communities. Our REALTORS® firmly believe in equal housing opportunity for all,’ Seabaugh said. “This year we aligned our annual community betterment projects in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Shelley vs. Kramer case and 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act,” she added. St. Louis REALTORS® sponsored ‘Rebuild Day’ in May, in which REALTORS® helped restore five homes in the community around the Shelley House; and September’s community park project, where members worked for two days to transform a vacant lot into a lush, attractive landscape complete with urban gardens, flower boxes and handicap accessible walk ways.
St. Louis REALTORS® secured permission from the adjacent church that owns the roughly 4,000-square-foot property, and partnered with Rebuilding Together STL, a local non-profit that serves low-income homeowners. St. Louis REALTORS® Foundation, the charitable arm of the association, contributed $25,000 in funding for the project, a collaboration of member donations, a contribution from the association, and a $5,000 grant from Missouri REALTORS®, as well as a $3,000 REALTOR® Party Placemaking Grant. “We’re so fortunate to have the help of our members, NAR, Missouri REALTORS® and Rebuilding Together STL. It takes a great team to accomplish something as great as this park.” says Seabaugh.
The lot is close to an apartment complex for elderly residents and is connected by an alleyway to an existing urban vegetable garden that serves many needs in the area. Prior to the volunteer event, professionals leveled the ground and installed wheelchair-friendly walkways. Over the course of the two-day project, more than 50 REALTORS® and community members came together to assemble umbrellas, build a privacy fence, construct two-level accessible vegetable planters, build picnic tables and benches, and plant trees.
“We are so proud to have been able to help a struggling area of the city,” says Seabaugh. “This park enhances the vitality and attractiveness of the neighborhood, and lifts the spirits and property values for all homeowners and businesses nearby.” She notes that the effort has strengthened the REALTORS®’ relationship with the community and the city, as well: the October 26th ribbon-cutting was attended by the city alderman, the state senator, and the U.S. congressman representing the area. “We are deeply thankful to NAR for its support,” she says. “These grant programs are fabulous and are put to very good use on the local level.”
To learn more about how St. Louis REALTORS® is working to uplift communities around the city, contact Dawn Seabaugh, Director of Communications, at 314-576-0033.