A workshop Saturday will highlight "the Finest 15" — fifteen select homes available for purchase in the Fairgrounds neighborhood. The homes, which are now vacant, are owned by the Land Reutilization Authority, or LRA.
And while the homes need varying degrees of work, the prices can't be beat: All are between $1,000 and $4,000.
Tackling vacant housing in St. Louis neighborhoods has been a priority for St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, or SLACO. The group's Vacancy Project has started holding workshops to educate people on the process of buying a home from the agency, which has 3,100 homes across the city in its portfolio.
"We are trying to encourage home ownership with the young people," says organizer Angela Drake. "I see a lot of young people live in homes that are not in the best conditions. We are trying to get the attention of young people and encourage them to buy homes."
Thanks to SLACO's past workshops, Drake says four or five sales are currently pending and one has already closed: 21-year-old restaurant worker Donita Sims was able to purchase a home from the LRA.
“A lot of people don’t do it because they think they can’t afford it or the process will be hard,” Sims said in a statement. “It was easy. It’s a great opportunity and it will save a lot of money in the long run.”
Sims paid just $1,000 for her three-bedroom home, which includes a sunroom and a garage. It needs electrical work, and she'd like to put in a new kitchen and bath, but the organizers say it's otherwise ready to go.
Drake and others led a tour of Sims' new home last Friday. "We just wanted to congratulate her on purchasing her home and give her encouragement," Drake says.
Drake says she wants people to know that not all LRA-owned homes are in deplorable conditions.
“We want renters to know that homeownership is possible," she said in a statement. "It’s affordable.”
The workshop takes place at 10 a.m. this Saturday at the O'Fallon Park Rec Complex at 4343 West Florissant Avenue.