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Turning Good into Greater Good

February 2022 newsletter

Instead of an original article this month, we thought we would present some highlights from a recent report on affordable housing in St. Louis.  

(find a link to the entire report below)

If this topic piques your interest, please join us Tuesday, March 8th 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. via Zoom for our education event “Housing Inequity 101”.
(See more below)

Affordable Housing in St. Louis

Why does this matter? Affordable housing is a racial justice issue.

Community Builders Network and collaborators recently put together a unique report card of how the region is doing regarding affordable housing, including– for the first time – data from both St Louis City and St Louis County. Here is a condensed version:

We cannot discuss affordable housing in the St. Louis region without considering race.

Race has sculpted St. Louis’ social geography and physical infrastructure, dividing Black and white families both physically and economically….This “geography of inequity” was created intentionally throughout many decades by those in power and reinforced, sometimes unintentionally, by systems and infrastructure. Policies that encouraged white flight, housing discrimination against Black residents, and preferential lending led to racial segregation that negatively impacts Black St. Louisans to this day.

St. Louis continues to be one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in our nation. Wealth, health and longer life expectancy, employment opportunities, and political power are pooled in majority white neighborhoods. Even though majority Black neighborhoods are rich in culture and experience, they also have significantly higher concentrations of substandard housing, vacant properties, illegal dumping, lead pollution, and other conditions that negatively impact health…

A significant proportion of overall wealth in the U.S. is linked to home ownership. But redlining historically shut Black residents out of the housing market through racist home lending practices and housing policies that prevented Black residents from receiving loans to purchase or update properties.


    • Definition of affordable housing – 30% of residents’ income (including utilities)

Report Findings

    • For each income group, based on a 3-person household, they identified the best match for affordable housing costs (AMI =Average Median Income):
      • 0-30% AMI: For families with incomes less than $22,400 costs less than $549/month
      • 31-50% AMI: For incomes between $22,400 and $37,350 costs less than $999/month
      • 51-80% AMI: For incomes between $37,350 & $59,700 costs less than $1,499/month.
      • 81-100% AMI:  For incomes between $59,700 & 74,700 costs less than $1,999/month
    • HUD bases “affordable” on its statistic of average median SL income of $84,900
    • No new public housing built in St. Louis County since 1985.
    • If making $37,500 or less, it’s very difficult to find affordable housing in St. Louis.

UNMET demand beyond what’s available – another 35,000 units are needed for lowest income families –

    • These results do NOT include persons with walking disabilities.  88,000 people fall under this definition; only 2,000 affordable units exist.
    • 25,000 households are behind on rent;
    • Evictions now resuming, likely to exceed 18,000
    • $219 million mortgage and home improvement capital available from Federal government in St. Louis metro area.  Black applicants 2x as likely to be denied. 90% of funds went to South St. Louis County.
    • To read the full report, including suggested solutions, visit:


Housing Inequity 101

Tuesday, March 8th, 5:00-6:30pm, Via Zoom

Place matters. Where people live in St. Louis has been shaped by an extensive history of segregation driven by governmental policies and practices. Its effect has systematically excluded African American families from opportunities for positive economic, educational, and health outcomes.

One nonprofit organization is addressing this through a collaborative, community-based approach to building systemic change. Chris Kremeyer, president and CEO of Beyond Housing, will share the policies and practices that created segregation in St. Louis and the impact on these communities. We’ll also hear about the organization’s mission and programs that are focused on transforming the communities it serves.

Welcome New Members

Joan Humes

Lorraine Graves Simpson

Save the Date/Upcoming Events

The Last Children of Mill Creek by Vivian Gibson Tuesday, March 22  

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm, Virtual

Vivian Gibson, the author will be joining our discussion.

Join us in discussing this true story of growing up in segregated St. Louis Vivian Gibson was raised in Mill Creek Valley – 454 acres in the heart of downtown St. Louis, which was then a warm, tight-knit African-American community. But beginning in 1959 the community became the nation’s largest urban renewal project.

Vivian’s family, friends, church community, and neighbors were all displaced by this act of “urban renewal”.  In this moving memoir, Gibson recreates the everyday lived experiences of her family, and reflects upon what it means that Mill Creek was destroyed in the name of racism disguised as “progress.”

The book can also be purchased at Left Bank Books, 399 N Euclid Ave, 63108

Zoom information will be sent following your registration.

Ballot Fair

April 13th  5:30-7:00pm (Virtual) (Members Only Event)

Come learn about the agencies that have been nominated for the 2022 granting cycle. You will have an opportunity to become more familiar with the work of each agency, to help you decide which ones you will  vote for to be funded.


As we celebrate the 15th year of SOS, it is an ideal time to reflect on our mission.  As part of our 2021-2023 strategic plan, our Communications and Marketing committee undertook an initiative to review our mission and purpose, and offer guidance on enhancing them to reflect how our organization has grown and matured.  With the leadership of our Communications and Marketing Committee Chair Gretta Forrester-Gaffney and SOS member and non-profit consultant Eriko Pope, the committee conducted many deep dive discussions with a broad range of SOS leaders – past and present – and members. After much conversation and thoughtful engagement, the committee arrived at revised mission and purpose statements that portray where SOS is today and that will continue to guide our work in a focused and inclusive way.

Our Mission

The Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund (SOS) educates and inspires women to engage in informed, collective grantmaking by investing in Greater St. Louis’ small nonprofits to positively effect change in our communities.

Our Purpose

To support vital work that creates safer, healthier and equitable communities.

Note: Members can find the complete SOS Foundational Pillars Document on the website after signing in.

Interested in becoming an SOS member?

Come to an informal info session on

March 5th 9:00-9:30am CT.

If interested please contact Katy Dowd at

Membership in the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund is open to all women.

You can join anytime.

2021-2022 Education and Social events for SOS

In the Know

Check out these two events hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, STL regional chapter.

If you attend and would like to share the key learnings with your fellow SOS members in a future newsletter, please contact Gretta Forrester-Gaffney at

Member Spotlight

SOS member Nancy Rodney was profiled in the STL Business Journal. Visit the link below to read the article.

Reminders & Housekeeping

Annual memberships are due by March 15th. Please follow the link below for easy renewal

Automated emails will be sent to those who have not yet renewed on Feb. 15th and March 15th.

Social Hour Recap

Thanks to the membership committee for creating a great Social Hour, held on Wednesday February 9th. It was the next best thing to being in person!  For a few like Amy Garrison and Sara Pixley (pictured here), they turned virtual into an in-person in a small way, and attended the event virtually together.

Here was a first time attendee’s response to the event:

“Social hour the other night was so much fun.  It’s the first I’ve participated in and found the women to be caring and off the charts smart.  Thank you for setting and hosting it.” – New Member (2021)

If you missed it this time, be sure to join our next social event!

Social Media Corner

A big thanks to  Amy Garrison for stepping into manage our Social Media presence while Tasha Borglum is on maternity leave. If you have notifications that you would like to see posted on social media, please send them to Amy until April 1st, 2022.

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