U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


The first record of a settlement at the present site of East St. Louis was in 1765. In 1795, Captain James Piggott completed construction of a bridge across the creek and also built a hand-operated ferry to carry produce, merchants and passengers across the Mississippi River. In 1820, the area was incorporated as the Village of Illinoistown with a voting place and a post office. Because of its importance for trading and its location near St. Louis, the area prospered economically in spite of frequent flooding which plagued the area until 1919 when a flood wall was constructed.

At one time, the Mississippi River bed was eight miles wide, lined by the Missouri bluffs in St. Louis and the Illinois ones from Belleville to Edwardsville. Although much of the land was inappropriate for housing, it was suitable for railroad terminals, warehousing and industry requiring large plots of ground. Large stretches of land on the east side of the Mississippi attracted heavy industry which supplied St. Louis and other Midwest cities. East St. Louis developed and grew in part because it was directly across the river from one of America's prominent cities. Also, it played a critical role in, and was shaped by, transportation. Ferry boats to St. Louis were important even after the Eads Bridge opened in 1874. Railroads arrived in the 1850's and freight handling become important in the City's economy by the Civil War. As the railroad industry grew, East St. Louis became the western terminus for the eastern railroad lines and the City continued to expand.

The period from 1889 to 1930 was known as the "Golden Era" of industrial expansion in East St. Louis history. By the time of its incorporation as a City in 1888, a shift in its economic base from transportation to manufacturing had begun. The industrialization of East St. Louis peaked in the 1920's. The period from 1930 to 1960 was one of relative economic stability, rather than expansion.

As the racial characteristics of the city changed, so did the economic fortunes and industrial technology base of the City. Consequently, the City of East St. Louis, during the period from 1960 through 1987, lost over 13,000 jobs, mainly from plant shut-downs. This resulted in a substantial loss in retail activity and the subsequent loss of hundreds of businesses.

Action Plan

East St. Louis' Consolidated Plan presents a strategic vision for housing and community development on a statewide basis. It includes a One-Year Action Plan for spending approximately $3 million of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), $577,000 of HOME Investment Partnership Program, and $105,000 of Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds. These funds will primarily be spent on housing, infrastructure and public facilities, and community and economic development activities.

Citizen Participation

In preparing the Consolidated Plan, a public hearing was held on March 1, 1995 in the Aldermanic Council Chambers of the East St. Louis Municipal Building. Residents, representatives of public agencies and community organizations and other interested parties were asked to present their views on housing and community development needs in the City. About 40 people attended the meeting and they were asked to rate pressing needs in the city.



Since the largest industries developed outside the city, largely to avoidEast St. Louis property taxes, the City ranked 130th of 131 cities of comparable size in collection of property tax revenue relative to the value of public property. In addition, the City used to be known as a community of laboring people and attracted immigrants through the 1940's. After World War I, Whites began moving to other Illinois areas and African-Americans from the rural south entered. By 1960, African-Americans reached 45 percent of the population; today, they are over 95 percent. During the late 1960's, African-Americans, especially the middle class, joined the White emigration and, since 1950, the total population has declined by about 50 percent.

As the racial characteristics of the city changed, so did the economic fortunes and industrial technology base of the city. Consequently, East St. Louis lost over 13,000 jobs, mainly from plant shut-downs from 1960 through 1987. Today, about 60 percent of the population receives some form of welfare assistance and the unemployment rate is approximately 20 percent.

Forty percent of the 5,888 renter households in privately-owned units have annual incomes below the poverty level and an estimated 9,800 households out of 13,057 are income-eligible for public housing. Many American cities such as Los Angeles, Baltimore and Detroit have neighborhoods where need is urgent, but they differ from East St. Louis in one important respect. They can shift resources from more affluent neighborhoods into poorer ones, whereas East St. Louis has such pervasive poverty and a woefully inadequate tax base that shifting is exceedingly difficult. East St. Louis must plan for a growing tax base by leveraging outside resources, both public and private, to stimulate economic activity. The population of the City of East St. Louis declined by over 25% between 1980 and 1990.

To summarize the population trends in East St. Louis:

Housing Market Conditions

Housing is often described as a bundle of services which includes the exterior and interior of the structure and the neighborhood in which the residence is located. Other services which affect housing include schools, streets, sidewalks, lighting and police protection. East St. Louis has had limited ability to adequately provide such services given its low tax base.

Theoretically, high vacancy rates indicate numerous options for renters. This is not the case in East St. Louis. Vacancies result from the high rate of abandonment and the ineffective demand of low-income tenants. Many renters cannot pay enough rent for private landlords to maintain their units in standard condition. Disinvestment and abandonment, to the extent found in the City, has implications in allocating funds for redevelopment. Priority should be given both to maintaining and improving housing conditions for existing residents and to bringing higher-income households to East St. Louis.

East St. Louis has 27,566 parcels of land and those groups that own majorshares of them reflect the poverty of the community. At least 25 percent of them are publicly owned. St. Clair County owns about 15 percent of all the land, mostly because of non-payment of property taxes. Owner-occupied units numbered 6,595 in 1990 or 50.5 percent of all occupied units. This percentage is low in relation to most other communities and to the remainder of St. Clair County. Many of the owners are long-term residents, often elderly, with limited resources to repair and renovate their properties. From a public policy perspective, maintenance of owner-occupied dwellings is important as a base for neighborhood stabilization. Loan and grant programs for home improvements, particularly for the elderly, should be part of an overall redevelopment strategy.

Data seem to indicate that conditions improved somewhat between 1980 and 1990. The loss of large numbers of renters who typically live in the most overcrowded conditions, the increasing percentage of elderly who have remained in their single family houses, and the sharp decline in married-couple families could induce a mistaken belief that housing conditions are improving. East St. Louis neighborhoods have more abandoned and are more desolate than they were 10 years ago and an estimated 2,500 additional structures should be demolished in the City.

Housing prices in East St. Louis are low for many reasons:

  1. more people are moving out than moving in
  2. many of those who remain are low-income
  3. traditional financing mechanisms are generally absent

Affordable Housing Needs

Forty-two percent of the households in the City experienced housing problems in 1990. This compares to 26% for the balance of St. Clair County. A "housing problem" may be one or a combination of: cost burden, physical defect in the unit or overcrowding. Large related households (80%) experienced, on a percentage basis, more housing problems than other groups, but the proportion of housing problems in the other groups (60% to 64%) is still significant. Large related households constitute only 17% of all renter households in the City. Sixty percent of small related households, the largest renter group (32%), experience housing problems. On the average, 50% of all renter households experienced housing problems. By contrast, only 31% of owners had problems. This data indicates that elderly owners (33%) had slightly more housing problems on a percentage basis than other owners (30%).

Fifty percent of the households in the City had very low incomes (O% to 50% of MFI) in 1989. (This compares to a percentage of 25% for the balance of St. Clair County.) Of the destitute households with incomes between 0% and 30% MFI, 81% have housing problems and 55% have cost burdens greater than 50% of their incomes. Among renters, housing problems are experienced by large percentages (82%) of all household types, but large-related households are particularly vulnerable. The data indicate that 94% of these households have experienced some housing problem and 63% have cost burdens greater than 50%. Among renting households with incomes between 31% and 50%, 59% experienced housing problems but large-related households are again particularly vulnerable to housing problems. Eighty-one percent (81%) reported problems. The percentage of renting households reporting housing cost burdens greater than 50% declined dramatically for all renting households in the upper end of the very low income category.

According to waiting list information provided by the Housing Authority, the number of families seeking either public housing or Section 8 increased by 75% between January, 1992 and July, 1993. Most of the increase (70%) is attributed to households seeking family (greater than 2-bedroom) units.

Homeless Needs

In May, 1993 and again in January, 1995, the CDBG Office conducted surveys of non-profit and social service agencies. The survey sought information about the mission and services and future development strategies of non-profit and social service agencies serving citizens of East St. Louis. It included agencies serving citizens with special needs including those with physical handicaps, mental illness, the elderly, frail elderly and the homeless. Findings provided awareness of facilities and services for the homeless and non-homeless special needs populations.

Neither the CDBG Office nor any other homeless service agency has conducted a recent local survey or a census to determine the number of homeless families and individuals. The only available count of the homeless population is the S-nights figure from the 1990 U. S. Census which, based upon interviews with several emergency shelter officials, dramatically undercount the city's homeless population. (The S-night figures showed 61 homeless individuals in shelters and no individuals visible in street locations.)

While the exact number of homeless persons has not been accurately quantified, service organizations indicate that homelessness is a growing problem. At least 75 emergency shelter beds are in the community and officials contend that prospective clients are regularly turned away because of lack of capacity. The surveys of non-profits revealed that about 10,000 persons were served by homeless service agencies.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

The East St. Louis Housing Authority (ESLHA) manages 2,159 units in family, elderly, near elderly and disabled projects. Additionally, the Housing Authority has 158 homeownership units, 169 families with Section 8 certificates and 55 with Section 8 vouchers. These units are an important part of the City's rental stock. They currently constitute the highest quality rental units in the City. In the past, vacancies have been extensive. As of March 31, 1995 there were 11 vacant family units and 93 vacant elderly units (not considering the units that are vacant due to modernization). This decline is attributable to an extensive demolition and modernization program and aggressive marketing of the elderly units. Of the remaining homeownership units, 102 are occupied and 56 are vacant and in need of rehabilitation.

Vacancies are not indicative of lack of demand for public housing; in fact, the demand for public housing has increased in the last two years. As of March 31, 1995 there were 871 families on the public housing waiting list and 671 on the Section 8 waiting list. (It should be noted that a family can be on both waiting lists at the same time, and many families are on both.) Many on the lists want and need larger units, indicating as in previous years, a disparity between the size of available units and the size of those in need.

In the past a contributing factor to the large number of vacancies was the poor condition of the units caused by deferred maintenance. Subsequent deterioration and vandalism placed many of the units beyond repair. In the past two years, ESLHA has demolished 668 units. The demolished units include 244 abandoned homeownership units, 214 public housing units in two high rise buildings and 210 other public housing units. All the demolished units are subject to one-for-one replacement requirements. Currently, HUD has reserved funding for 307 replacement units. Construction of the first 168 units is anticipated in the summer of 1995.

ESLHA continues its aggressive modernization program to address the condition of the remaining developments. As of March 31, 1995, 189 units were available for occupancy because of modernization. In 1994, ESLHA began comprehensive modernization of 300 units at John DeShields Homes, comprehensive modernization of 60 units at Roosevelt Homes, comprehensive modernization of 58 units at Norman E. Owens and renovation of 56 units for Section 504 requirements at four different developments. By the end of 1995, many of the units being modernized will be available for occupancy.

Current Funding of East St. Louis Housing Authority

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Poverty is pervasive in the City. Population has declined and residents as a group have become poorer as moderate- and middle-income households moved to more affluent communities. Few people have come to East St. Louis to replace them. Properties have filtered downward to families with less income who are without adequate funds to maintain them; often they become vacant and abandoned. Population projections anticipate further losses. The loss in occupied units in the last decade was greater for renters than owner- occupants. This loss indicates a decline in residential stability. Many senior residents choose to stay in rundown single-family houses rather than enter public housing units. A strategy that allows senior citizens to remain in their homes rather than moving into public housing is needed.

Fair Housing

Because African Americans comprise 95 percent of those living in East St. Louis, housing discrimination based on race is not an issue. Financial capacity is the determinant of housing choice. While race is not an issue within the City, it is not entirely true for African Americans who have left East St. Louis for other parts of the metropolitan area.

While the population of the rest of St. Clair County, where East St. Louis is located, grew between 1960 and 1990, the reverse happened in the City: population dropped from 81,712 to 40,944 in those 30 years. During the late 1960's African Americans, especially middle- income ones, joined the departure from East St. Louis.

Social, economic and racial factors influenced those leaving East St. Louis. Many Whites moved to the bluff communities in St. Clair and Madison Counties - Belleville, Collinsville and Fairview Heights - while African-Americans went to cities on the American Bottoms, particularly Cahokia, Centreville and Alorton and to the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. African Americans often moved to those areas where they felt minimum hostility to their migration. While prejudice in housing exists even today, practices have changed dramatically the last 30 years: African-Americans reside in most parts of the metropolitan area in types of housing.

Lead-Based Paint

During the next five years, the City will work closely with agencies such as the Side Health District, which are familiar with the incidence of lead-based paint poisoning to accurately determine the nature and extent of the problem. Discussions will focus on how development agencies can reduce the impact of lead poisoning increase the public's awareness of the problem.

Lead-based paint abatement is integrated into rehabilitation and modernization underway and projected by the Housing Authority. All rehabilitation programs of the CDBG Office require recipients to execute a certificate stating that they are aware of lead-based paint poisoning problems. Where feasible, CDBG rehabilitation programs will require complete abatement of lead-based paint problems.

In addition, the City obtained additional HUD funds for lead abatement. The Illinois Department of Public Health received from HUD a lead-based paint abatement award to be used in four townships in St. Clair County, including East St. Louis Township. East Side Health District will identify homes requiring lead abatement treatment. The funds will be split between the four jurisdictions, with East St. Louis receiving funds to abate about 50 homes over a two-year period. The CDBG Office will work closely with the implementing entities on the program and recently entered into a cooperative agreement with the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department under which it will provide a $20,000 match for the program. It is anticipated that the CDBG Office will provide a similar match for year two of the program.

The East Side Health District is working towards identifying housing units in critical need of lead-based paint abatement. The District indicates that about 8,700 children have been tested in the past year through various programs to target homes for lead testing and abatement work. Although the District does not yet know the actual number of homes in the City and the remaining portion of St. Clair County, they report that the problem is extensive in the East St. Louis.

Community Development Needs


East St. Louis planning and redevelopment efforts mandate coordination, because the paucity of local resources precludes the City acting in a solitary fashion. Renewal and even day-to-day operations of government are dependent on consultation with other levels of government, private and non-profit entities and residents.

Reporting directly to the City Manager, the Coordinator of the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community will utilize the 25-person Steering Committee as an advisory board and will make recommendations to the City Manager. Additionally, subcommittees formed during the EZ/EC strategic plan process to develop plans in their specific expertise will enter into collaborative partnerships to implement projects. They will also serve as strategic plan review teams, advisors on future projects as clearinghouses for needed activities, and as coordinators in their areas of expertise. They will ultimately make recommendations to the City Manager and EZ coordinator.

The Steering Committee/Advisory Board will have representatives for the East St. Louis Financial Advisory Authority, the CDBG Office and community representatives appointed by each of the four City Council members. This entity will review applications for funding and incentives made by Program Management Teams.


Vision for Change

Almost every interview with citizens, government officials and private sector representatives and each public meeting led to the conclusion that the vision for the future must contain the creation of more jobs and local businesses.

Enhancing economic conditions in East St. Louis is not an easy task: so many changes in industrial behavior, on a national and international level, have occurred in the last several decades. The availability of skilled labor, technology and capital are more important than local costs; tax incentives are less useful than a predictable business environment; and governments can support but not really induce economic behavior.

All of the above led to the conclusion that City government policies should support industries that seem appropriate and feasible to develop of expand in East St. Louis. The are:

All are sensible for East St. Louis.

Economics is not the only part of this vision. Those who are disadvantaged will be treated with dignity and low income persons will be well housed. Facilities, housing and supportive services will be available for special needs groups such as those with AIDS, those who are physically or developmentally disadvantaged and those who are frail elderly. Shelter will be available to those displaced from their homes due to domestic violence, lack of resources or mental and emotional incapacity. Independent living situations will be provided for special needs groups and way will be found to support them in their homes.

Visually, too, the City will have an attractive and vibrant look. A new riverfront will emerge, sparked by the Casino, and a new federal park on axis with St. Louis' Gateway Arch, with a visitor's center and promenade, golf course, museum, marina, commercial center, entertainment center, thoroughfare improvements and middle income housing. Neighborhoods will be restored and improved, particularly around light-rail stations. Market rate apartments and strip shopping centers will be constructed near Metro-Link stops and single-family residences will be built in the neighborhoods. Demolition of abandoned structures will continue and new construction will fill areas pock-marked by disinvestment.

Housing and Community Development Objectives and Priorities

Housing Priorities:

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

Anti-Poverty Strategy

City agencies are both planning and implementing economic development efforts targeted to expand existing firms and to create new ones and to generate new jobs for residents. The advent of riverboat gaming in July, 1993 brought employment opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents. Riverboat developers worked closely with city officials to maximize jobs on the boat for residents. In addition, the developer proposed establishing and funding an economic development foundation through which other job-producing activities could be nurtured and financed.

Additionally, the CDBG Office set aside about $600,000 for economic development projects, and established program procedures and guidelines for the funding. The CDBG and Casino Queen Foundation funding will leverage other private capital for economic development.

Housing and Community Development Resources

The purpose of the Consolidated Plan is to establish a guide for the City's community and economic development investments through the CDBG, HOME and ESG programs. The programs are viewed in some instances as ways to leverage federal, state and local funds. CDBG funds, for example, have recently been used to leverage state EPA funds for sewer repairs and federal funds for lead-based paint abatement. Similar leveraging efforts are currently underway for housing development, infrastructure, Youthbuild and homeless initiatives.

During the preparation of the Empowerment Zone Strategic Plan, City officials that even if it were awarded the $100 million EZ grant, substantial additional funds would be required to meet the strategies and objectives of the Plan. Since that time officials have attempted to identify available funding sources and expect to establish a grant writing and technical assistance apparatus to directly seek funds and to help organizations in the City apply for funding. Toward this end, the CDBG Office has identified available federal, state and local programs which might assist it in implementing the community and economic development efforts included in this Consolidated Plan.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

All CDBG and HOME funded programs will be coordinated through the East St. Louis CDBG Office with the exception of those CDBG and HOME programs funded through subrecipients and/or CHDO's as described in the Plan (e.g., Senior Citizens Activities, MECCO). The CDBG Office also manages the infrastructure program although it is administered pursuant to a cooperative agreement with the City's Public Works Department. Further, the CDBG Office and City's TIF Office, while separately administering their respective economic development programs, attempt to coordinate their activities to the greatest extent possible in order to maximize financial impact and assist as many applicants as possible. All public housing activities are managed and administered by the East St. Louis Housing Authority.

Community Program Development Corporation, the private company under contract with the City and HUD to administer the CDBG and HOME programs, will provide oversight and management services throughout the balance of its contract. The East St. Louis Financial Advisory Authority provides oversight on and must approve all City TIF agreements.


Description of Key Projects


The expenditure of CDBG, HOME and ESG funding will generally be made on a City-wide basis. Geographic targeting of funding will essentially consider two factors:

Lead Agencies

The East St. Louis CDBG Office served as the lead agency for the development of the Consolidated Plan. The CDBG Office is administered by an outside private firm, community Program Development Corporation (CPDC) pursuant to a contract with the City of East St. Louis and HUD. CPDC has staffed the Office with and executive director and six employees (office manager, fiscal officer, CDBG and HOME program managers and an inspector). CPDC will continue to provide consulting services and technical assistance to the Office through November, 1995 at which time the overall responsibility of administering the CDBG and HOME programs will revert to the City.

The CDBG Office executive director has met and will continue to meet with various agencies and organizations working within and serving the East St. Louis community in order to enhance the impact of the various efforts. The Office will, to a certain extent, act as a clearinghouse for project funding, notifying interested parties of the availability of funds and assisting them, when possible, in application submission. The CDBG Office will continue to play a major role in the City's Enterprise Community steering committee, which will be a focal point of coordination activities with regard to funding of projects listed in the City's Strategic Plan.

Housing Goals

(repair/renovation) 100 "

(acquisition/rehab/sale for low-income families) 3 "


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).

To comment on East St. Louis Consolidated Plan, please contact:

Diane Bonner,
Community Development Director
City Hall
301 River Park Drive
East St. Louis, IL 62201
(618) 482-6635 Fax. No. (618) 271-8194

Return to Illinois' Consolidated Plans.