One House at a Time

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Eltoreon Hawkins started buying up vacant homes while he was still a college student. Now, he's teaching others to do it, starting with his neighborhood of Walnut Park West. Hawkins also was the first person to participate in the city's Mow to Own program, which allows people to eventually get the deed of an abandoned LRA lot they've maintained. PHOTO BY MARIA ALTMAN | ST LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

On this episode ... 

St. Louis is home to the country's oldest land bank and has thousands of abandoned and vacant homes.

Enter Eltoreon Hawkins, a 20-something trying to change that, one house at a time. 

Hawkins always thought he would be a cop. That's how he wanted to serve his community. But he quickly became disillusioned with the criminal justice system he wanted to see reformed. So he's turned his efforts closer to home. specifically, to real estate. And what started out as a plan to secure a future for himself and his family has turned into a mission for this 20-something: taking back his neighborhood. 

"If there were an Eltoreon in every neighborhood, we’d be a better city," said Laura Costello, who heads up real estate for the city's land bank. 

Also in this episode: folks who think there's a different way to tackle vacancy in the city. 

Music in this episode comes from St. Louis producer Trifeckta and New York producer ClassicBeatz.