The percentage of parcel acreage that include vacant buildings or are vacant lots in the City of St. Louis

Equity Score
Indicator scores are represented on a scale from 1 to 100.
Disparity Ratio
Disparity direction: black-white
Acres of vacant parcels by census tract

There are more than nine times as many acres of vacant land and buildings in majority-black census tracts as in majority-white census tracts.

Source: American Community Survey 1-year PUMS

A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.

For Vacancy, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean majority-black and majority-white neighborhoods are equally likely to have vacant properties. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all. 

More Information

Expand all

What does this indicator measure?

Vacancy measures the percentage of parcel acreage that include vacant buildings or are vacant lots in the City of St. Louis. Vacant buildings are any building with consistent signs of abandonment, including structural condemnation, window/door board-up services, tax delinquency, and lack of general maintenance. Vacant lots are any parcel that does not contain a building, that is not used for an explicit purpose (e.g., parking lot, cemetery), and where there is evidence to suggest the property is not being provided with regular property maintenance. As of June 2018, there were 2,619 acres of land in the city that were deemed to be vacant lots or properties with vacant buildings. This means 7% of occupiable land in St. Louis was vacant. 

Vacancy analysis

Acres of vacant parcels by census tract in St. Louis City.

  All Majority-Black census tracts Majority-White census tracts Disparity Ratio Equity Score
Acres of vacant parcels 2,619 2,338 182 - -
Acres of all parcels 37,006 18,271 13,151 - -
Percent of parcel acres that are vacant 7.1% 12.8% 1.4% 9.246 to 1 3

Data Source: St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative, June 2018. 

What does this analysis mean?

Majority-black census tracts have more than nine times as much vacancy as majority-white census tracts. 12.8% of parcel acres in majority-black areas are vacant lots or vacant buildings, compared to 1.4% of parcel acres in majority-white areas. If vacancy were equitable, there would be 2,086 fewer acres of vacant parcels in majority-black neighborhoods. 

Data Note: Data were collected by the Vacancy Collaborative Data Analysis & Transparency Working Group from 12 different datasets from four departments: the Building Division, the Assessor's Office, the Department of Forestry, and the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA). They are combined into one comprehensive dataset, after which a number of queries are run that attempt to correct errors and inconsistencies. Vacancy status can change daily so this analysis represents a point-in-time count. 

  Vacant lots Vacant buildings Vacant parcels (lots and buildings)
Majority-black census tracts 11,836
94.5% of all vacant lots
90.6% of all vacant buildings
93.0% of all vacant parcels
Majority-white census tracts 367 397 764
No-majority census tracts 321 320 641
Citywide 12,524 7,663 20,187

Majority-black areas have 93% of all vacant parcels in the City of St. Louis. Majority-black areas have 94.5% of all vacant lots and 90.6% of all vacant buildings. 

Why does Vacancy matter?

Vacant properties blight our neighborhoods, decrease the values of nearby occupied properties, and pose serious health and public safety risks for residents. As Mayor Lyda Krewson notes, “Nothing good happens in a vacant building.” Vacant and abandoned properties also strain City resources. Under the direction of the Land Reutilization Authority — the nation’s first land bank — the City of St. Louis owns 10,000 vacant properties, with nearly 11,000 additional privately-owned vacant or abandoned parcels within the city limits. 

Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?

The Ferguson Commission calls to action related to vacancy include:

Questions for further investigation

  • Why is there a racial disparity in Vacancy? 
  • What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Vacancy?
  • What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Vacancy?

How can I learn more about this issue?

The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative is a coalition of local government officials, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood residents, and other stakeholders that are focused on addressing the vacancy challenge in our city. In July 2018, they launched STL Vacancy, an interactive website, where they track vacancy and demolition.

In April 2018, the Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative produced a resource guide to help people navigate existing tools to combat vacancy. 

In July 2018, Mayor Lyda Krewson released her plan to reduce vacant lots and buildings.

Was this page helpful?      

Comments are helpful!
500 character limit

Feedback is anonymous.