A North St. Louis housing advocate explains why he accepts an apology from a major realtors group for its role in a legacy of racial housing discrimination.

Monday night, Burns led a fundraising gala to help raise money for capital improvements to the NCHISTL office, which he said stands in a structure built in 1893.


In a blog post (https://www.stlrealtors.com/blog/2022/09/23/association-news/st.-louis-realtors-apology-and-commitment-to-diversity-equity-and-inclusion/) on Friday, September 23, St. Louis REALTORS® President Katie Berry stated:

“St. Louis REALTORS® is painfully aware of the historical discriminatory laws of the local, state, and federal governments, as well as the documented policies and practices of our national, state, and local REALTOR® organizations that perpetuated discrimination against the Black community and created barriers for the pursuit of property ownership. Numerous historical events, laws, decisions, and initiatives reflect a history of explicit racial segregation and discrimination. We apologize for all of these actions.”

The group repeated the apology in a press conference at the historically-Black Harris-Stowe State University. Michael Burns is president of Northside Community Housing, Inc.

“I hate that I missed that opportunity to actually see it at Harris-Stowe, but I was familiar with it, and I was very happy to hear that they were willing to admit the wrongdoing.”

Burns said he heard “rumblings” over the years that an apology was coming. However, he pointed to past disappointments over other actions such as how the preamble for St. Louis REALTORS® was written. But now, Burns is excited about new action items.

“The one thing that I like most of all is that the REALTORS® are going to require everybody to take fair-housing courses. That’s the number one thing that I am the most-proud to hear.”

In the statement, St. Louis REALTORS® mentioned they pushed for the courses the Missouri Real Estate Commission will require for all those holding a license.  This new requirement will be in effect for the next renewal cycle.

“I think that is a great move in the right direction,” Burns said.

Monday night, Burns led a fundraising gala to help raise money for capital improvements to the NCHISTL office, which he said stands in a structure built in 1893.

“We need a lot of roofing. We need tuckpointing. We need to replace the façade in the front. We need to renovate the interior, because we actually allow community groups and neighborhood associations, and 501(c)3’s to utilize that space free of charge.”

NCHISTL recently wrapped The Northside Trap Run. That 5K run and walk raised money for safe and affordable housing. A vendor fair was at the start line and DJs played music along the route. The historic Ville Neighborhood, which is often the site of many shootings and other crimes. It is also home to the historically-Black Sumner High School. Opera singer Grace Bumbry, elite tennis player Author Ashe, and music icon Tina Turner were all Sumner students. Organizers made sure participants saw the new for-sale homes and rental apartments along the route. Burns said NCHISTL offers more affordable-rate rentals than market-rate units.

“About 70/30 [percent] as far as our housing stock is concerned, and we are steadily working on more products and more projects.”

To this day, The Ville remains predominantly Black. Since construction of the new National Geospatial Agency to the east, news of displacements and buyouts spread. Still, Burns said NCHISTL is committed to bringing more affordable, safe, and attractive housing to North St. Louis.

To learn more about Northside Community Housing, Inc., visit https://www.northsidecommunityhousing.org/rental-properties.

All images courtesy of Northside Community Housing


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