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  • The U.S. Census & St. Louis’ Over 50 Housing Stock

    Posted on December 16th, 2010 Toby Weiss 7 comments
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    American housing statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau are making the media rounds, and the media has already begun taking a negative slant. Take a look at the coverage by the city with the most housing stock over 50 years old, Buffalo, New York. They lead off by slamming New Orleans for the highest vacancy rate.

    At least the St. Louis Business Journal’s headline about the statistics focuses on St. Louis. We have the 2nd highest vacancy rate. Here’s their article.  Here’s some St. Louis housing stock stats they break down for easier consumption:

  • Housing units 180,490
  • Occupied units 143,045
  • Seasonal units/units that are not occupied but have been sold or rented 2,514
  • Vacant units 34,931
  • Vacancy rate 19.35%
  • Units built since 2005 1,706
  • Share of units built in past five years 0.95%
  • Units built before 1960 145,264
  • Share of units built more than 50 years ago 80.48%
  • Median year of construction for existing units 1939
  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units $119,900
  • As I hunker down in my home built in the median year of 1939 (another useful stat), I’m afraid to read any other local media outlet’s take on this news, because it will surely be negative – that’s what the media (and reader comments) excels at.  Words have power, and going for the negative spin only holds a benefit for those hell bent on tearing down rather than building up. As these new stats make the media rounds over the next few days, I ask you to consider a positive take on every negative you hear.

    For examples of positive spin, let’s look at a stat like 80.48% of our homes are over 50 years old:
    • Ask most any carpenter or architect and they will tell you you’re better off in a home over 50 because they were built to last.
    • St. Louis is the 3rd most sustainable city in America because of its older housing stock.
    • People move to out city because of the deep and vast character of our original housing stock.
    • St. Louis is proud to have so much of its heritage to show off.

    You get the point.
    Perception becomes reality, the power of positive thinking is that it brings positive results.  Your response to the following declaration will reveal if you’re part of the problem or the solution:

    St. Louis is such an affordable, historic, well-built and handsome city that the vacancy rate is a temporary set back.

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    7 Responses to “The U.S. Census & St. Louis’ Over 50 Housing Stock”

    1. Amen, Toby. Having older, quality housing stock should be a source of pride for any city. And yet most of our regional “leaders” in St. Louis only equate progress with new, inferior housing being built.

      I recently spent some time in the Velda City/Village area, which is filled with lovely homes from the 1920s & 30s. I hate to admit it, but all I could think is wow, we must really have some stupid, racist people in St. Louis to abandon a place like this. So sad.

      Hopefully younger generations will start to see value in the real deal.

    2. As a county resident that would very much like to live in the city because I spend the majority of my time there, the introduction of a newborn to our family has definitely caused a ripple in that possibility because of schooling.

      We can’t afford to send our child to private schooling that is non parochial and, until that piece of the equation is fixed–and I have friends who are city residents actively working to do just that–it’s a major consideration for young families that has us, at least, looking to the inner county as this would at least get us closer than the 30min drive it takes us to get into the city now.

    3. Bill Burge, what specifically is your beef with the public, magnet and charter schools in the city limits? What negative experiences have formed your opinions? I’m curious as a parent with 3 kids in SLPS. So many people put the city schools down but don’t have any first hand experience with them. I have found in my own education and that of my kids and friends that no school is perfect…there are trade offs with everything. Let me just tell you that when it comes to safety, I fear not the SLPS nor the bus system of which my kids ride daily (4 year old included). It’s mostly perception as Toby mentions in her thoughtful post.

    4. I think the positive spin on the bad news not very well thought thru. These vacant houses are vacant for a variety of good reasons.

      I think most of them have to be razed like in Flint, Michigan or the historical preservation codes have to be rewritten to allow contemporary interpretation to make these houses affordable to remodel.

    5. The best high school in Missouri is a SLPS school – Metro. Don’t be afraid to raise your children in the city, they can receive a good public education.

    6. richard stupidhead

      Justin, what’s the competition/acceptance rate at Metro these days? a few friends went there in the 80′s and did receive good educations but I imagine demand has only increased.