Homeless

People who are homeless rest in the cafeteria at the Bridge Outreach on Wed. March 30, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The Bridge Outreach is closing Thursday after serving thousands of meals a week to homeless people for more than a decade.

St. Louis officials and service providers have come up with a patchwork plan to fill the gap in services until the city’s 24-hour shelter opens.

But some advocates for homeless people say they’re worried the plan won’t be enough to meet the need.

Originally built to house the Biddle Street Market, this city-owned building at 1211 N. Tucker Blvd. is slated to house the city's new 24-hour homeless shelter.
William Bailey | provided by the city of St. Louis

For the past decade, the homeless population in the city of St. Louis has hovered between 1,300 and 1,500 people. But a national expert and the CEO of the lead agency selected to run the city’s new homeless shelter say with the right resources and methods, most of those people could be housed.

At a public meeting on Biddle House last Wednesday St. Patrick Center CEO Laurie Phillips said 50 percent of the estimated 1,300 homeless people in St. Louis just need a few months of rental support and help finding a job. That method is called rapid rehousing.

Quinton Reed eats a home cooked lunch and watches TV at his Garfield Commons Apartment. Reed was diagnosed with schizophrenia after years of struggling with homelessness.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Quinton Reed is one of the lucky ones. After struggling with homelessness for four years, he was diagnosed with  a mental illness and set up with treatment and a one-bedroom apartment in south St. Louis.

“I used to couldn’t watch TV or see my daughter or see my family or just relax. I was just out all day carrying big bags, going from shelter to shelter and sleeping outside,” said Reed, showing off the couch in his living room where he goes to relax and get away from the world.

Originally built to house the Biddle Street Market, this city-owned building at 1211 N. Tucker Blvd. is slated to house the city's new 24-hour homeless shelter.
William Bailey | provided by the city of St. Louis

Updated on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 2:00 p.m. to include the city's acceptance of a proposal - The city of St. Louis is one step closer to opening a homeless shelter on the near north side. Tuesday a city committee accepted St. Patrick Center’s proposal to run Biddle House with the help of Peter and Paul Community Services.

Human Services Director Eddie Roth said the next step is to negotiate a contract with the agencies.  

New Life attorney Todd Lubben, right, asks New Life Vice President Raymond Redlich a question during testimony May 26, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 26 with final testimony - By this time next month New Life Evangelistic Center could know whether St. Louis will give the downtown shelter a new occupancy permit without the approval of its neighbors. The city's Board of Building Appeals finished hearing testimony Thursday in an appeal requested by New Life. The shelter is also asking for an exemption to continue operating within 500 feet of a school.

The appeal is a follow-up to a December 2014 ruling, when another city board found New Life was a detriment to the neighborhood.

Carr Square resident Catina Wilson speaks to a panel of city officials and representatives from St. Patrick Center and Peter and Paul Wed. May 25, 2016 at the public hearing on the agencies' application to run Biddle House.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If their reception at a community meeting Wednesday night is any indication, the agencies who submitted the only application to run a new homeless shelter in St. Louis face an uphill battle to convince nearby residents they’ll be a good neighbor.

The plan is for St. Patrick Center to oversee daytime operations at Biddle House, including intake, meals and placement in permanent housing for up to 125 men, women and children. Peter and Paul Community Services would be in charge of the 98-bed overnight shelter for men.

Volunteer J.R. Wilkerson Jr. prepares broccoli at the Bridge Outreach on Wednesday, March, 30, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday was chicken, broccoli and rice day at the Bridge Outreach in downtown St. Louis. With the help of volunteers, Chef Charlotte McClendon serves close to 3,000 meals to the homeless each week.

But the days where people without a place to live can go to the Bridge for a meal are now numbered.

Sherry Branham, 55, panhandles at the eastbound I-64 exit ramp onto Grand Blvd.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ only walk-in day shelter for the homeless won’t be moving to the city-owned building known as City Hall West this month after all. The board of the Centenary United Methodist Church agreed Sunday to extend the lease for the Bridge Outreach until the end of June.

“We decided that this was the right thing to do so that we didn’t have people displaced throughout the neighborhood and that we could provide shelter especially in this very cold weather,” said Centenary’s pastor, Kathleen Wilder, after the vote, noting that the church had “a commitment” from the city to find a new home for the Bridge by the end of the lease “if not sooner.”

Connie Lamka holds a candle during a vigil for nine St. Lousians who died while homeless in 2015. Lamka is a case worker for the New Life Evangelistic Center, and knew two women who passed away this year.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Before dusk on the longest night of the year, about 30 people stood at the Centenary United Methodist Church in St. Louis to remember nine people who died while homeless in 2015.

The four women and five men honored during the ceremony had visited St. Louis-area agencies for assistance, but died without a place to call home. Some died young, including one who passed away after a fire swept through his encampment near downtown St. Louis. Some died while estranged from family or friends.

Volunteers led by the St. Patrick Center look for homeless people during the Point In Time Count in the city of St. Louis in January 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

New homeless numbers are out and they paint an improving picture for the state of Missouri. 

According to the annual homelessness report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness dropped by 11 percent in Missouri this year, but it has not yet returned to pre-recession numbers. Meanwhile, homelessness in the United States dropped by 2 percent this year, continuing a slow but steady decline stretching back to 2007.

Gateway 180 at 19th St. and Cole St. provides shelter to more than 100 women and families.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis is following through on its goal to open two emergency homeless shelters by mid-April, but a lot of the details are still being worked out.

The men’s shelter is temporarily being housed at the 12th and Park Recreation Center in the LaSalle Park neighborhood.

photo of NLEC. Only emergency shelter in the region that will take anyone. Run by Larry Rice
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis says it will meet an April 12 deadline to open new emergency homeless shelters.

The city announced in February that it was seeking providers who were capable of opening as many as 250 beds by that deadline, either by expanding their existing facilities or by building new ones.

Sherry Branham, 55, panhandles at the eastbound I-64 exit ramp onto Grand Blvd.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning rush hour brings lots of cars to the I-64/Highway 40 exit ramp on Grand Boulevard. Most pass Sherry Branham by without pause, unheeding of her cardboard call for help.

New Life Evangelistic Center director Larry Rice (center) said the emergency homeless shelter will seek an injunction against a city deadline to reduce its overnight beds.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:45 p.m. May 28

Rev. Larry Rice, city of St. Louis attorneys and neighborhood stakeholders are continuing with mediation that could allow his homeless shelter downtown to remain open and avoid going to trial this September.

According to a spokeswoman for New Life Evangelistic Center, the parties met for 9 hours on Wednesday in Clayton, but reached no final agreements.

The Salvation Army band plays in an alcove of the newly renovated apartment building on Washington Ave. on Friday, February 27, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced plans to fund year-round emergency shelter for 225 people Wednesday. The announcement came one day after the city’s Board of Public Service officially filed an order requiring downtown shelter New Life Evangelistic Center to reduce the number of people it helps each night to 32. New Life has until May 12 to comply or be shut down.

47-year-old David Whitt has a checkup at a new clinic co-located at Places for People.
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

For people struggling with homelessness, addiction or severe mental illness, visiting a primary care doctor may be the last thing on their mind. But community mental health providers, including St. Louis-based Places for People, are starting to offer primary care services to their clients in the hopes of reducing rates of premature death among people with mental illness.     

Suzanne Wagener, executive director of Covenant House Missouri, and Anthony S., a participant in the organization's traditional living program, talk to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 24, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

In St. Louis, Covenant House Missouri has helped hundreds of homeless teens and children learn to live independently, get an education and gain needed life and job skills.

“Family dysfunction is the number one reason youth are homeless, quite honestly,” Covenant House Executive Director Suzanne Wagener told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday. “Between 45 and 50 percent of them have been in the foster care system and are homeless.”

Laurie Phillips, CEO of St. Patrick Center
courtesy St. Patrick Center

St. Patrick Center has a new leader at the helm. Laurie Phillips took over as CEO of the homeless services provider on Tuesday. She is the first woman in charge of the agency since Edith Cunnane founded the Catholic charity in 1983.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

A brutal cold snap has drawn attention to the region’s homeless, and the services available to them.

Gateway Greening intern Ting "Bella" Liu shows students at Clay Elementary School in North St. Louis how to harvest peas.
Gateway Greening

A St. Louis-based community gardening organization is wrapping up its 30th year with a record harvest.

Gateway Greening’s community and youth gardens harvested more than 190,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruit in 2014.

The nonprofit’s executive director, Mike Sorth, said the organization provides basic gardening supplies and assistance to neighborhood gardens, schools and youth groups.

Anthony Knight, left, listens as New Life Shelter Manager Scott Eagen addresses the group. Bob Linsey and Lamont Belle in the backround look on.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A small group of people, many connected to New Life Evangelistic Center, gathered Saturday for a meeting of the Metro St. Louis Coalition for the Homeless.  The group’s main topic of discussion was what to do now that the city has declared New Life’s emergency shelter a nuisance and given the organization until May to reduce the number of people they serve or shut down.

Protests at Board of Public Service meeting 12-23-14
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The city's Board of Public Service has ruled that the emergency homeless shelter at the New Life Evangelistic Center is a detriment to the neighborhood and must close in May unless it changes the way it operates.

Tuesday's unanimous vote by the board provoked shouts of "Shame!" and "What would Jesus do!" from a standing-room-only crowd, followed by chants of "homeless lives matter!" Crowd members also accused the board of holding an illegal meeting because they allowed no time for public comment. 

comedy nose | Flickr

By April 2013, the latest state data showed the number of homeless students in St. Louis Public Schools had doubled over the past three school years.

At the time, Deidre Thomas-Murray, the coordinator of students in transition, described what these numbers look like in practice.  

photo of NLEC. Only emergency shelter in the region that will take anyone. Run by Larry Rice
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

A two year-long battle over the fate of a downtown St. Louis homeless shelter could come to an end on Tuesday, when a city agency votes on a petition to revoke New Life Evangelistic Center’s hotel license.

Downtown residents and business owners began petitioning to close New Life two years ago, saying that the facility is a detriment to the neighborhood.

Mayor Francis Slay requested that the two sides undergo mediation in October, but New Life founder Rev. Larry Rice said the mediation was not successful.

After 13 years, homeless advocate Bill Siedhoff stepped down in November from his post as director of the St. Louis Department of Human Services.

“It’s been a very rewarding career, I would say,” Siedhoff told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday. As director, Siedhoff was responsible for overseeing services for youth, the elderly, the disabled and the homeless.

Want to rock out to holiday music while supporting a local charity? Easy.

At Home(s) for the Holidays, concertgoers donate the cost of their ticket to one of four local charities.

Researcher and consultant Iain De Jong speaks about ending chronic homelessness on November 20, 2014 at Christ Church Cathedral.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Those who want to help the homeless—whether by offering a hot meal or a temporary bed—should focus instead on trying to find them a permanent home as quickly as possible.

That's what researcher Iain De Jong told about 40 people gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis Thursday for a presentation on ending chronic homelessness.

Curesa Atkins sits in her apartment at the Garfield Commons.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

When Curesa Atkins moved into her apartment at Garfield Commons, a group from her church decorated it for her.

“It was snowing, and I just thought, 'Thank God. I’m watching it from the other side of the window when there’s so, so many people out there,'” Atkins said.

Atkins, a 42-year-old former dental assistant, said she became homeless after a dealing with series of car repairs, a change in her marital status and, eventually, the loss of her job.

The former Garfield School in St. Louis has been renovated and will open on Nov. 19, 2014, as Garfield Commons with 25 apartments for single chronically homeless adults.
Google Maps

When Garfield Commons, the former Garfield Elementary School in St. Louis, formally opens this week, it will provide 25 apartments for single homeless adults and assist 40 homeless and HIV-positive people annually.

“The individuals who are moving into Garfield Commons are coming from a chronically homeless background, as well as folks who have had recurring issues with substance abuse, folks who have significant mental illness,” program director Adam Pearson told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. “We’ll be providing both housing and supportive services.”

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