Historic Salvation Army building reopens as permanent housing for homeless | St. Louis Public Radio

Historic Salvation Army building reopens as permanent housing for homeless

Feb 28, 2015

Another St. Louis agency is expanding its capacity to provide a long-term solution to homelessness in the region.

The Salvation Army has converted a dormitory-style building on Washington Ave. into 58 one-bedroom apartments. The apartments are slated for people with a variety of needs, including children aging out of foster care, people with disabilities and the chronically homeless.

Previously the building housed the Salvation Army’s addiction treatment center and had more of an institutional feel.  It focused on short-term care.

The dorm area of an occupant of the Washington Ave. building prior to renovations.
Credit Courtesy Salvation Army

“It’s an amazing turnaround for the building. It’s an amazing turnaround for the people who occupied it. And frankly, that’s going to continue now for a long period of time beyond just this,” said Gary Busiek, regional director of social services for the Salvation Army.  

Built in 1907 as the Newsboys Home by Father Dunne, the building has beautiful stained glass windows. The $12 million renovations revealed previously unknown details, including pink stone floors in the stairwells. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Social Services Director Gary Busiek, right, shows off the kitchen of one of the new apartments in the Salvation Army's historic midtown building.
Credit Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

That designation allowed the Salvation Army to use historic tax credits to help pay for the renovations, said Patty Richardson. She is in charge of women’s services for the Midlands Division of the Salvation Army, which encompasses southern Illinois and much of Missouri.

The Salvation Army also has 48 apartments for veterans getting back on their feet after being homeless and a low-income apartment complex downtown.

Richardson said the Washington Ave. apartments will be used as both transitional and permanent housing and rent will vary based on need.

“Particularly those who are in treatment, there may be some that their insurance pays for. And the rents will be very low, probably based on income. We’re still working that out as we’re kind of transitioning this program. So it will be a combination of things,” Richardson said.

This spring the Salvation Army will break ground on a new addiction treatment facility about a block from the apartment complex.

The renovations are part of a $60-million investment to update the agency’s services in midtown St. Louis.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.