The Neighborhood Improvement Specialist is the liaison between neighbors and city service providers. Also known as Neighborhood Stabilization Officers, NISs, or NSOs, your Neighborhood Improvement Specialist is who you turn to for ongoing issues in your neighborhood.
Neighborhood Improvement Specialists are part of the City of St. Louis’s Neighborhood Stabilization Team. The NST‘s purpose is to bring together the police, elected officials, governmental agencies, social service organizations, community groups, and individuals to identify permanent solutions to ongoing problems.
What Does a Neighborhood Improvement Specialist Do?
The primary job of a Neighborhood Improvement Specialists is to be a problem solver. Your NIS works with a variety of city agencies to remedy issues reported to the CSB or police.
NISs also proactively seek out potential problems in your neighborhood. Your NIS is in your ward nearly every day looking for possible code violations or nuisance activity like frequent loitering or illegal dumping. They also verify that issues reported to the Citizens’ Service Bureau have been resolved.
Your Neighborhood Improvement Specialist monitors the status of vacant buildings and nuisance properties. Sometimes they are able to work with property owners to address and resolve issues. In other cases, the NIS helps to build potential cases against the owners of such properties by issuing citations and filing reports.
You’ll frequently see your NIS attending neighborhood meetings. At most meetings, they will provide updates about their ongoing activities and answer questions, address concerns, and listen to other feedback from residents. Because your NIS is in your ward working closely with other city agencies, they will often be able to provide fairly specific information when permissible.
When To Contact Your Neighborhood Improvement Specialist
Elevating Issues with City Services
For most issues with city services, you can contact the Citizens’ Service Bureau (CSB). But some issues will require further intervention. Your NIS can help when you have trouble getting an adequate response from the Citizens’ Service Bureau or when your issue is outside of the scope of a normal CSB service request.
Many city residents are quick to call their Alderperson when they feel their issues are not being satisfactorily addressed. Most of those calls are likely better handled by your Neighborhood Improvement Specialist. Neighborhood Improvement Specialist is a full-time position, and your NIS has the tools and resources to help resolve your issue.
Your NIS is a direct liaison between you and the city service providers. They have a greater ability to monitor ongoing problems and continue working with city agencies to remedy issues. Neighborhood Improvement Specialists also work closely with the Alderpersons in their respective wards to keep each other up to date on ongoing issues.
The Neighborhood Improvement Specialists also act as a liaison between city residents and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. They work especially closely with SLMPD‘s Problem Properties Unit. Your NIS can work with the police and other agencies to deal with nuisance properties.
Nuisance properties are addresses that receive excessive calls for police service, have frequent code violation complaints, and cause other ongoing problems for the surrounding neighborhood. A house with suspected drug dealing, a business that seems to attract and enable criminal activity, or a vacant building that is frequently unsecured or unmaintained could all be examples of nuisance properties.
Depending on the issue, you can report nuisance activity to either the police or the Citizens’ Service Bureau. For suspected criminal activity, you can call the police. If it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, you can call the non-emergency line at (314) 231-1212. For most other issues, you can file a report with the CSB or contact your NIS. See below to find your NIS’s contact information.
Always specify the address!
It is very important when reporting ongoing nuisance activity that you specify the address of the problem property whenever possible. To build a case against a nuisance property, police calls for service and CSB service requests need to be reported at the correct address.
Knowing the specific address of a nuisance property in your neighborhood ensures that all verified complaints are logged to the correct property and helps the police and other city agencies to investigate the issues. Never give your own address when calling the police or CSB to register a complaint about another property.
Find Your NIS by Neighborhood
Each city ward has an assigned NIS. If you’re not sure which ward you’re in, visit the city’s Find Your NIS page.
Dutchtown Neighborhood Improvement Specialist
Mark Washington McLean is the NIS for Dutchtown proper. You can contact Mark Washington-McLean at at Washington-McLeanM@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1360.
Gravois Park Neighborhood Improvement Specialist
Christian Saller is the NIS for Gravois Park, bounded Cherokee, Jefferson, Chippewa, and South Grand. Contact Christian Saller at SallerC@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1375.
Mount Pleasant and Marine Villa Neighborhood Improvement Specialist
Qiana Baxton is the NIS for the Mount Pleasant and Marine Villa neighborhoods which make up the eastern portions of the Greater Dutchtown area. You can contact Qiana Baxton at BaxtonQ@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1374.
Other Neighborhood Stabilization Team Contacts
Sandra Zambrana is Executive Director of the Neighborhood Stabilization Team. She can be reached at ZambranaS@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1373.
Bernie Powderly and Karen Washington are Supervisors of the Neighborhood Improvement Specialists. Bernie Powderly can be reached at PowderlyB@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1356. Karen Washington can be reached at WashingtonK@stlouis-mo.gov or (314) 657-1368.