Lawsuit shines light on massive illegal rooming house operation in south St. Louis
The City of St. Louis has brought a lawsuit against six Missouri residents who it says are running a massive illegal rooming house operation — one that involves 39 properties in nearly every neighborhood in south city. Neighbors and those paying rent say Dara Daugherty leads the enterprise.
“It's pretty obvious she's running a criminal operation,” said Tower Grove East resident Joe Goodman, who lives near two of Daugherty’s rental properties. One, on Virginia Avenue, was condemned in December.
Attorneys with the City Counselor's Office say the defendants preyed on vulnerable people by renting rooms in condemned buildings and in properties without permits to serve as rooming houses. Their lawsuit mentions Daugherty’s suing for nonpayment, even though she had no legal right to collect rent from rooming house tenants.
Goodman helps run the Tower Grove East Community Garden at Sidney Street and Virginia. He said that he and other neighbors installed a food pantry in the garden with Daugherty’s tenants in mind.
“[We] just want[ed] to make sure they were eating. We had a clothes rack in wintertime for them as well,” he said. “They’re down on their luck. I think a lot of them would have been homeless if they weren't living in one of Dara’s properties.”
Goodman joined Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air alongside Riverfront Times staff writer Ryan Krull. Krull’s reporting on the illegal operation uncovered details about how the operation may have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers through pandemic relief funding, why it took so long for the city to take action and the effect the lawsuit may have on other problem landlords operating in St. Louis.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to email@example.com.