Skip to content

Spanning the Region

Friday, April 1, 2005

St. Louis Businesses Eligible for Neighborhood Loan Program

Eight neighborhoods in St. Louis and one in East St. Louis, Ill., could benefit from a new program designed to spark economic development in impoverished areas.

The Sustainable Neighborhoods Small Business Loan and Gap Financing Program provides loans of up to $10,000 to small start-up businesses and existing small businesses wanting to expand in the nine neighborhoods. Gap financing—up to $7,500 and no more than 43 percent of the total financing package—is also available.

The Sustainable Neighborhoods Development Office, part of a grassroots effort to revitalize the St. Louis area, is offering the program with help from the Justine Petersen Housing & Reinvestment Corp., a local nonprofit organization.

The loans have an average interest rate of 9.5 percent to 11 percent over a maximum of five years.

The nine neighborhoods are: Covenant Blu/Grand Center, Vandeventer; Walnut Park West, Walnut Park East, Mark Twain; Carr Square, St. Louis Place, Old North St. Louis, Columbus Square; Gravois Park, Benton Park West, Fox Park, McKinley Heights; Forest Park Southeast; Lemay; Jennings; Wellston; and Emerson Park in East St. Louis.

For information, call Sherri Flanigan-Vasquez, economic development director for Justine Petersen, at (314) 664-5051.

Seniors Find Help Interpreting Contracts from Louisville BBB

Scam artists trying to separate senior citizens from their hard-earned money will have a rougher go of it in Louisville, Ky. The Better Business Bureau there has developed Elder Contract Review Services, a program to assist senior citizens who are asked to sign a contract.

The program provides senior citizens with free legal advice before they sign a mortgage, home improvement contract and other similar documents. The program is meant to deter those who would financially exploit senior citizens. It will also provide a way to report scam artists to law enforcement agencies.

If confronted with a questionable contract, a senior citizen may request a legal interpretation through the Better Business Bureau hotline at (502) 588-0035. The call will then be logged and screened.

Situations requiring help from legal resources will be routed to the legal team, which will provide an explanation of the risks, content and implications surrounding the contract within 24 hours.

The legal professional will then inform the Better Business Bureau of any case of fraud or abuse, after which authorities will be notified.

Indiana Organizations Provide Homeownership Counseling

With an increasing number of homeowners in Indiana facing foreclosure, three organizations are working together to reverse the trend.

Indiana Legal Services, Momentive Credit Counseling Services (formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Central Indiana) and the Indiana Housing Finance Authority (IHFA) are providing homeownership counseling to low-income Hoosiers in the form of a new program, the Post-Purchase Counseling Initiative.

The program is available to homeowners who have received IHFA down-payment assistance.

The organizations are working together to educate those eligible about fair housing laws, money management, homeownership responsibilities, predatory lending practices and energy-efficient products. The Post-Purchase Counseling Initiative also offers legal representation to preserve homeownership, decrease predatory lending practices, and economically strengthen communities.

For additional information, visit IHFA’s web site,, or call toll-free in Indiana 1-800-872-0371.

Web Site Links Workers in Memphis to Benefits

Low-wage workers in Memphis, Tenn., can increase their annual income by an average of $4,000 by using a new web site to learn about money-saving government and non-government benefits.

Seedco, a national community development intermediary, developed EarnBenefits Online as a one-stop shop to help eligible people connect to benefits such as food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Individual Development Accounts.

The web address is

Faith-based and community nonprofit organizations are working to spread the word about the program.

EarnBenefits is funded by the Ford Foundation, the City of Memphis, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other stakeholders.