Politics
9:28 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

St. Louis County Council Hears Complaints About Homeless Services

Updated at 8:40 a.m. to correct the name of Larry Rice's organization.

Members of Reverend Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center told the St. Louis County Council Tuesday night that the county is lacking resources for the homeless.

Melissa Paul was one of several homeless St. Louis County residents who said the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis is the only they place can go. 

“I tried to get into the in the battered women’s shelter,” Paul said. “They’re overly crowded, no space what so ever.  You have to be able to hold down a job to get into this transitional housing.   If you’re not able to that, that leaves you homeless and out on the street.”

In August of last year County Executive Charlie Dooley said the county would expand its services for the homeless, but that hasn’t happened.

Dooley said there are resources available for homeless in the county, including contracted services for emergency shelters.

But he did say the county can always do more.

“We need to do better,” Dooley said.  “One lady indicated that she’s from Jefferson County, yet she came to St. Louis County to ask for that kind of information.  What a lot of people don’t realize is that, with the numbers that we have on the homelessness, there’s in some cases 65 percent of the people we service don’t live in St. Louis County.  So, it’s a regional asset.”

Dooley said the county is looking to add services, but stopped short of giving any kind of timeline.

He said there are numerous obstacles to providing additional resources including funding and zoning concerns. 

Smoking ban revisions tabled, for now

The council tabled a bill that would change the county’s smoking ban.

Councilman Mike O’Mara, who introduced the proposed changes, said he will organize a public meeting in the coming weeks to get input from residents and business owners before making any revisions.

Bill Hannegan told the council that he would like see a compromise to the ban so that only businesses that admit people over the age of 21 can allow smoking.

“They know there’s a risk in smoking,” Hannegan said.  “There might be some risk in being around second hand smoke, or smokers smoking.   And, you know, if someone enjoys that, or finds that situation enjoyable, we feel that should be allowed.”

The proposed changes to the ban would remove exemptions for all drinking establishments, cigar bars and casino gaming floors.

Private clubs, however, could continue to allow smoking.     

Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd