Monday, August 25, 2014

Tragedy in Ferguson

reposting this letter:

The Human Face of Tragedy
By Beth Braznell, 2014 President, St. Louis Association of REALTORS®

Our community has been rocked the last two weeks by the events in Ferguson. And make no mistake—this is a regional issue, not one we can confine to a few blocks in a northern suburb.

I went to Ferguson on August 19 to have lunch and make some purchases. The business community there is struggling. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake. I went not to take a political or social position, but to show support for the community. The repercussions of the violence in those few blocks are huge, and we will be feeling them for decades to come. Questions of justice, blame,
and truth will take years to sort out. My immediate concern is the effects on the people who live and work in the area.

The people in the surrounding residential areas have little access to food, prescription drugs, and other necessities unless they leave their neighborhood as the businesses along West Florissant are closed. Continuing demonstrations and protests are blocking streets and sidewalks.

Public transportation, on which many depend, is at a standstill. Many are afraid to go far from home, fearing that their homes may be damaged or violated. Some whose income depends on the businesses in their community are without jobs.Home healthcare workers are afraid to visit clients in the area, so vulnerable people are without the services they desperately need.

Church and community groups are working hard to fill the needs, but they need our help. The St. Louis Association of REALTORS® is collecting non-perishable food (in non-breakable containers), disposable diapers, pet food, cleaning items, personal care items, and school supplies at our
office to be distributed through churches and community assistance groups.

Donations may be dropped off:
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
12777 Olive Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63141

Tragedy invites opportunism. In the wake of highly publicized events come scammers, con artists, and fraudulent contractors seeking to take advantage of fear and uncertainty. Homeowners should be wary of people who urge them to sell now to avoid potential loss of equity. These people prey on ignorance, panic and fear, offering to take your home off your hands before its value plummets.

There will be long-term consequences. Already, some lenders are reevaluating transactions in progress. Insurance companies may raise their rates for vehicle and homeowner insurance. Property values may fall. The school districts will have more trouble meeting budgets. Businesses
will leave, taking jobs and opportunities with them.

We Midwesterners are strong, resilient, and generous. The reporters will go away, the boards covering many buildings along West Florissant will come down, and the hard work of recovery will begin on so many fronts. It has to be a regional recovery, for even if you don’t live in Ferguson, you are affected by the damage done there. Banks, insurance companies and other service providers will reevaluate their commitment to the
St. Louis area, assessing their risks. Potential new corporate citizens will think twice about the stability of our region. Housing and commercial opportunities may pass us by.

The community of Ferguson is rich and vibrant. Regardless of the events that took place there are people struggling to get to work, educate their children, and provide a decent place for their families to live. Let’s not let them fall between the cracks as we struggle with the mega issues of
social injustice.
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