The Nehemiah Program is a catalyst for stabilizing neighborhoods, growth, deploying comprehensive real estate development capabilities while shaping some of St. Louis' most challenged neighborhoods. One of the most newest and innovative plans of the Nehemiah Program is our Ferguson and North St. Louis County Renewal and Transformation Plan.
The transformation of the Ferguson neighborhood will build upon the existing assets in the area and relies on key partners for a successful execution. The Nehemiah Program has been hard at work creating a diversified group of community stakeholders to create The Ferguson and North St. Louis County Renewal and Transformation Plan.
The Plan will began with a demonstration project that will target and renovate 30 homes in Ferguson and North St. Louis County for rental and home ownership opportunities. The majority of these homes will be vacant and/or foreclosed properties that are currently a detriment to home values, community safety, and a list of other deterrents to a community on the rise.
Vacant and abandoned properties have negative spillover effects that impact neighboring properties and, when concentrated, entire communities and even cities. Ferguson as with many other challenged neighborhoods, has more than its share of vacant and foreclosed properties. Research links foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties with reduced property values, increased crime, increased risk to public health and welfare, and increased costs for municipal governments.
However, where others see risk, The Nehemiah Program sees opportunities. Opportunities that will enable us to demonstrate the important role of housing in neighborhood stabilization. Upon successful completion of the demonstration project, the overall 5 year plan will commence to develop a remaining 110 homes in Ferguson and surrounding North St. Louis County neighborhoods for a total of 140 homes over a 5 year period.
One other component of the initial demonstration plan is to create The Nehemiah Epicenter in the Ferguson Special Business Center that will house the Nehemiah Housing Agency and a business incubator to both support and attract new businesses--small, new, and major businesses that can additionally contribute to the growth and well-being of the future of Ferguson.
It is our goal to bring about the awareness of the interwoven issues of stabilizing challenged neighborhoods and the impact of innovative housing and business development solutions that are needed to turn a community into a neighborhood of choice again. The Nehemiah Program has already leverage value added partnerships that can result in millions of dollars in financial capital that can be leveraged to fund the proposed project. These initial partnerships has the potential to bring a broader amount of interest and investment to the communities we will impact and It is our belief that a synergy will result that will cause one outcome: success!!!
The purpose of this demonstration project is to assist high-risk families and communities in a community that has recently faced civil unrest through the implementation of evidence-based and innovative strategies and programs that promote resilience and equity for all.
The FNSLC Transformation Plan is a work in progress that is took its foundational beginnings from Mayor James Knowles working with just a few community stakeholders with strong beliefs that Ferguson and other surrounding St. Louis challenged communities could rise as a better and even stronger community as a result of some of its recent challenges. His desire is to coordinate a community wide community transformation effort that will become a model to other communities in the nation wishing to be a community of choice and a destination place for both current and future residents and businesses.
The Plan was developed using several key findings from various other successful initiatives that promote community resiliency and respond to the Department of Justice's Desent Decree. A few of those initiatives are the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, the current Ferguson 2015 Vision Plan, SAMHSA's Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma Program, and the 2016 FOCUS St. Louis Racial Equity Opportunity Impact Fellows Report.
An overarching resounding finding in most of these reports states housing development and the creation of economic opportunities as an equitable to strengthen both the community, its economy, as well as its current and future residents. Therefore, the goal of the project is to create an intentional plan and process for local community residents and stakeholders to work together in ways that lead to improved community resources, empowered community residents, increased business growth and opportunities and sustained community change.
The 2016 FOCUS St. Louis Racial Equity Opportunity Impact Fellows Report is one of the many reports we viewed to identify the initial focus area for turning around Ferguson. Their report tackled Forward Through Ferguson’s Opportunity to Thrive (OTT) focus area was on addressing racial equity within the construction industry. It is only one of many compelling priorities in pursuing racial equity for our region and it also simultaneously addresses key neighborhood stabilization needs as well as responds to the DOJ Decent Decree requirements.
Housing development is rooted in the construction industry. The St. Louis Metro construction industry could account for $400 million more in GDP if there were no racial gaps in industry employment and wages. Looking into the construction industry addresses a particularly important and particularly timely social and economic drivers.
A direct quote from the Focus St. Louis Report states that "According to the National Equity Atlas: “Wage and employment gaps by race (as well as gender) are not only bad for people of color—they hold back the entire economy. Closing these gaps by eliminating discrimination in pay and hiring, boosting education attainment, and ensuring strong and rising wages for low-wage workers is good for families, good for communities, and good for the economy.” Working together to address gaps in income benefits the entire region."
"While we have chosen to focus on the construction industry, we believe that our process for finding best practice solutions, learning from stakeholders across the board, and proposing calls to action can and should be replicated in various industries vital to our region’s economy."
The FNSLC Plan also took ques from the US Department of HUD's Strategic goal #3 and #4D which are to;
STRATEGIC GOAL 3: USE HOUSING AS A PLATFORM TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE
Stable housing provides an ideal platform for delivering a wide variety of health and social services. Through inter-agency partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels, HUD encourages communities on the rise to use housing as a platform for coordinating access to support community living. To achieve this goal, HUD partners with local, state, and federal organizations, including the U.S. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness, to deploy evidence-based interventions, to among other things, promote advancements in economic prosperity and promote the health and housing stability of vulnerable populations.
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4D: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Strengthen communities’ economic health, resilience, and access to opportunity.
Building on the community’s institutional, financial, human, and physical capital is vital to economic growth and bolsters resiliency in times of disaster or downturn. Local networks among the private sector, government, and community leaders can be particularly effective at creating lasting solutions.
One path the project may seek to take is the Choice Neighborhood model. There are Choice Neighborhood grants that support locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Local leaders, residents, and stakeholders, such as PHAs, cities, schools, police, business owners, nonprofits, and private developers, come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed HUD housing and addresses the challenges in the surrounding neighborhood. The program is designed to catalyze critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services, and are even as far-reaching as schools.
WHY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT?
Ferguson is Getting Down to Business
It’s an exciting time in Ferguson Citywalk! The district has benefited from increasing public and private investment, with several major developments in progress. A number of our historical buildings have been dramatically transformed – along with historically sensitive new construction – creating greater opportunities for retail development and improving the area’s general aesthetics. In short, it’s the perfect time to consider locating your business in this thriving community.
Ferguson Citywalk is home to dozens of entrepreneurs, and its success is directly linked to the health, creativity, and ingenuity of small businesses. Aiming to be a haven for “mom and pop” establishments, as well as a destination for arts, dining and entertainment, the district actively supports its members by hosting business enrichment workshops and providing other support services.
Designated as a TIF (tax increment financing) zone in 2002, Citywalk offers financial incentives for qualified improvement projects. Redevelopment agreements are negotiated between the city and the developer or business, and must be approved by the Ferguson City Council.
Vision and Principles
With the full creation and development of the FNSLC Plan, Ferguson and surrounding St. Louis County neighborhoods will thrive as revitalized, mixed-income neighborhoods that builds on its existing assets and creates new, high quality housing options and business support, growth and attraction. Ferguson will be the model for other revitalization efforts in communities that have the challenges now faced by Ferguson, with retail, restaurants, community, and economic activity, active thoroughfares and vibrant business corridors. It will be a safe neighborhood with renewed parks and recreational opportunities, reinvigorated commercial districts with enhanced identities, walking and biking streets, and a variety of housing options. Ferguson, once again, will be a neighborhood of choice.
Your voice is important in developing this plan, so we encourage you to stay tuned for more details or please feel free to send an email to requesting to be included on our email list to keep you posted on all details of this project. Contact us now to get involved!