Aimee VonBokel’s February 23, 2017 article, Real estate and racism in St. Louis, reveals the history of housing segregation in St. Louis through the story of one house at 5117 Wells Avenue on St. Louis’s near-north side and the families of two St. Louisans who lived there: Leo, a white man whose family owned and lived in the house from the 1920s to the 1950s, and Claudia, an African American woman who rented the property from the 1950s until 2005.
The article explores the migration of African Americans in the early 1950s from a near-bursting downtown St. Louis to the less populated near-north side and the white flight to the St. Louis suburbs that followed. It describes how developers used race-restrictive covenants to keep neighborhoods racially segregated and how the redlining of racially mixed neighborhoods reduced property values, making it impossible to obtain mortgages. Rent from properties in these neighborhoods was transferred from African American, working-class city residents to white suburban homeowners, leaving our city with the deeply divided metropolitan areas we see today. According to VonBokel, “Racism is not just about individual decisions or hateful feelings. Racism is about financial incentives that are built into policy, and thus, invisible. What remain visible are only the effects.”
Read the full article.
Read the For the Sake of All Discussion Guide and Action Toolkit on how to work toward quality neighborhoods for all in St. Louis.
A recent St. Louis on the Air broadcast and article by Kelly Moffitt of St. Louis Public Radio highlights Harvard professor Daniel D’Oca’s urban planning and design project in which students created accessible solutions to address fair housing and urban segregation in the City of St. Louis.
Led by Professor D’Oca, graduate students at the Harvard University School of Design studied the history of housing policy in St. Louis and specifically how segregation contributed to the events in Ferguson in the summer of 2014. He and the students then took a field trip to St. Louis to meet with prominent community groups, including Forward Through Ferguson, to gather information and perspectives.
Students in the class are now developing the design projects, aimed at “affirmatively furthering” fair housing in St. Louis and sharing them in the St. Louis community. Projects range from a curriculum on the history of segregation to a graphic novel on racial zoning ordinances. Learn more about the projects here.
Read the full article and listen to the broadcast here.
Herb Kuhn’s February 2, 2017 commentary in the St. Louis Business Journal, Addressing childhood trauma to improve quality of life, discusses the importance of identifying both home- and community-based risks for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The damage caused by childhood abuse and neglect or toxic stress can affect physical and emotional health throughout one’s life and can even result in early mortality.
Kuhn’s commentary highlights a model developed by the Missouri Hospital Association’s Hospital Industry Data Institute that helps hospitals identify ACE risk at the ZIP-code level. It also shares results of a risk analysis showing how high-risk ZIP codes are dispersed throughout the state. St. Louis-area hospitals are using the data collected in a collaboration with Alive and Well STL to address the determinants of health and economic disparities in these communities. “The goal is to accelerate the understanding of the science of toxic stress and trauma and adopt practices that can mitigate the impact for St. Louisans.”
Read the full commentary here.
Jason Q. Purnell, Principal Investigator and Project Director for For the Sake of All, received two notable honors in the latter part of 2016.
On December 29, the St. Louis American named Dr. Purnell the 2016 “Person of the Year,” noting: “It is better that we do what For the Sake of All is trying to do: work together to improve the health of all people by eliminating racial inequities that stifle our region’s — and nation’s — growth.” Read more here.
On December 14, the Missouri Foundation for Health awarded Dr. Purnell with the Walentik award, established four years ago to honor the late Dr. Corinne Walentik’s commitment to serving vulnerable populations. The Foundation noted, “Dr. Purnell is an impressive researcher, leader, and change-maker. His drive and commitment to improving our region is remarkable.” Read more here.
A recent blog post by Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Director of CFED’s Racial Wealth Divide Initiative and Host of the Race and Wealth podcast, and Jason Purnell, Assistant Professor at Washington University’s Brown School, was published in November in The St. Louis American and The Huffington Post.
The post discusses the persistent and pervasive problem of racial wealth inequality in the U.S. According to a recent report, “it will take African-American households 228 years to accumulate the amount of wealth white families enjoy today.” Exploring the racial wealth divide in the St. Louis area in particular reveals not only poorer financial outcomes but also lower life expectancies for people of color.
Across the country, there are numerous local initiatives combatting issues like unemployment, low wages, and housing that can have an impact on financial well-being and health. Both For the Sake of All in its 2014 report and the Ferguson Commission in its 2015 report made recommendations for how to tackle these problems in St. Louis, and “a diverse, cross-sector set of stakeholders is working to translate [these] recommendations into action.”
Read the full post here.
Nancy Cambria’s December 6, 2016 article, Too many babies are dying in St. Louis and one group is taking a stand, addresses disturbing racial trends in infant mortality in St. Louis. According to a recent study commissioned by Generate Health (formerly the Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition), “African-American babies are three times as likely to die as white babies in St. Louis.” We reported similar findings on page 58 of our For the Sake of All 2014 report.
Cambria’s article also highlights the work of Generate Health’s Flourish campaign, funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health, and the unveiling of a recent call-to action promoting infant safe-sleep practices among African-American families.
Read the full article here.
A recent article in U.S. News & World Report examines the disparities that persist in Ferguson, Missouri more than two years after the death of Michael Brown and one year after the release of the Ferguson Commission report, “Forward through Ferguson.” The disparities are clear and visible, both in Ferguson and across the United States.
The author points to the For the Sake of All 2014 report as having “quantified health disparities in the region along racial lines and offered proposed solutions,” months before Brown was killed. “The report’s findings were staggering: Blacks in the county are 17 times more likely to be injured by firearms and six times more likely to be injured from abuse, neglect or rape,” says Dr. Jason Purnell, assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis who advised the Ferguson Commission and leads the For the Sake of All project.
“We were in the unique position of having done our work before Ferguson,” says Dr. Purnell. “Some have said that it predicted the level of frustration because of the disparities that we laid out in the report.” While Purnell says the changes are not happening “fast enough for anyone’s liking,” he notes some strategies listed in the commission’s report have begun.
Read the full article here.
Social Media and the Civil Rights Movement
The Ferguson Special Report features stories that highlight the impact following the events surrounding the death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, nearly 2 years ago. The report portrays the role that history, social media, and reform have played in our region. Ultimately, it “tells the story of how the unprecedented outpouring of social media dominated the Ferguson narrative and organized activists into a new civil rights movement and new reform efforts.”
For the Sake of All is featured in the “Reformers” section and highlights the For the Sake of All 2014 report which “tied health disparities to social determinants such as education, quality of neighborhoods, and economic status.” The interview with Dr. Jason Purnell, For the Sake of All Project Lead, depicts a city wrought with health disparities that are rooted along racial lines. Throughout the interview, Dr. Purnell outlines strategies to help alleviate disparities such as opening school-based health clinics and institutionalizing child development accounts in the region. He also reflects on the lack of a collaborative culture that has historically prevented progress in our region.
According to Dr. Purnell, “St. Louis needs the civic infrastructure for a deliberative reform process. This is how he describes that process: Collect the data and research evidence, identify best practices used in other places, make recommendations, implement programs that use best practices, evaluate and track the data that comes out of the reform strategy and start all over again.”
To read the full remarks, click here.
To view the Ferguson Special Report click here.
A North St. Louis County life expectancy map released today (August 3) by researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Center on Society and Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) illustrates that opportunities to lead a long and healthy life can vary dramatically by neighborhood. If you travel less than 11 miles north from Jennings to Old Jamestown, life expectancy can differ by as much as 12 years. View the map one-pager here.
VCU identified For the Sake of All as one of four organizational efforts underway in St. Louis to address the many factors that shape health and contribute to life expectancy. Click here to download the For the Sake of All Discussion Guide & Action Toolkit on Investing in quality neighborhoods for all in St. Louis. These brief and accessible publications will give you:
- A background on the history and impact of segregation in St. Louis
- Evidence-based strategies for promoting healthy neighborhoods
- Discussion questions you can use when talking with your friends and colleagues about creating quality neighborhoods
- Action steps you can take to educate yourself, get involved, and advocate for healthy neighborhoods for all