What's the best approach to saving a neighborhood? Paul McKee has a sweeping vision for north St. Louis that encompasses hundreds of buildings and acre upon acre of land. Another approach is quite different. Do it a block at a time.
Saturday morning about 300 volunteers (mostly from the Boeing Corporation) will be in the 4400 block of Clarence in north St. Louis in the 21st Ward to rehab 7 homes. In the past, the homes picked for repair and renovation might have been spread out in various neighborhoods. But the approach is now to concentrate on one particular block.
There are other things going on in the 21st Ward that you might take notice of. On Saturday mornings volunteers (many of them gang members) gather to clean up alleys and do yard work as part of "Operation Unity." We covered the story on May 8Th and when we saw Alderman Antonio French today we asked him how the program was going. He said it continues on. There are perhaps 30 people that show up on Saturdays to volunteer for the clean-up.
The religious community of the 21st Ward also gathers for a prayer vigil after there is a shooting or homicide. We first covered this story when they gathered to pray on April 19Th. Since then they've only had to gather one other time. As horrible as that sounds (they've only had to gather one other time) that is still a sign of progress.
French says by next summer historic tax credits will be available for perhaps 85% of the 21st Ward. That is expected to spark more renovation. French says it will be a "game changer."