Homeless | St. Louis Public Radio

Homeless

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Lazare House, a permanent housing program in St. Louis, aims at giving older, homeless young adults with mental health needs a chance at stability.

The 15-unit apartment building in south St. Louis is operated through Depaul USA, and provides housing for young adult ages 18 to 24.

Suzanne Kenyon, the director of Depaul USA in St. Louis, said although there are permanent housing resources in the city for adults and temporary housing resources for young people, the need for permanent supportive housing for young people is widely unmet.

Betty Arrington plays afternoon bingo at the Mary Ryder Home. (Jan. 4, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A residence in the Central West End has had the reputation of catering to poor and low-income women for years. But now, the organization's work to house middle-aged and elderly women with mental illnesses and, in some cases, formerly homeless women, is vital in a city seeking to address its issues around homelessness.

The Mary Ryder Home, 4361 Olive St., isn’t a nursing home or an independent senior-living facility. It gives women over age 55 who can no longer afford to live on their own — either because of mental health issues or financial problems — a place to stay. Permanently.

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
File photo | Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Local community organizations are teaming up to collect and distribute donated items for homeless people who’re suffering in the dangerous cold.

A Winter Homeless Outreach event coordinated through Facebook has attracted more than 4,000 interested users. It’s a collaboration between Let’s Help The Homeless, CDDB Community Charity and Just For Kidz. Outreach services for veterans will also join the event. 

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
File photo | Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

For a group of homeless people who've been living in tents on a downtown St. Louis sidewalk, it's the end of the road. 

Thursday was the deadline imposed by the city for them to leave the site.

In an act of solidarity, community activists gathered Thursday morning near Tucker Boulevard and Biddle Street to hand out food, winter clothes, and bus tickets to people who are homeless.

City officials had earlier announced that those in the tents would have to vacate the sidewalk, citing safety concerns.

Biddle Housing Opportunities Center. Biddle is partly run by the St. Patrick Center, a homeless service provider. Biddle is not only an emergency shelter, but also provides help for homeless, including finding housing. May 5, 2017
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

David Perry is a tall and muscular-looking guy. He has a construction job. His appearance and circumstances might not reveal it, but Perry is homeless.

For nearly six months he has been on the waiting list for housing at the St. Patrick Center, an organization that works with the city to end homelessness. 

Devonshae Ali, who plays Alice, and Gary Shepard, who has the role of Sam, are pictured in this April 2017 photo. They have both experienced homelessness in their own lives.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a time when Devonshae Ali, Kimberly Romine and Gary Shepard had no place to call home.

Now they all have not only permanent addresses but a new mission: helping people see what it's like to be homeless, through a play to be staged this weekend by St. Louis’ True Community Theatre.

A group of men put out mayoral campaign signs outside the New Life Evangelistic Center a day before the downtown St. Louis shelter at 1411 Locust St. is slated to close on April 2, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 1 after rally — The founder of New Life Evangelistic Center spent the final hours before his downtown St. Louis shelter closes leading rallies.

The Rev. Larry Rice is running for mayor of St. Louis and hopes that he can re-open his shelter if he wins Tuesday.

The city has been fighting to close New Life for years, saying it’s a detriment to the neighborhood.

New Life Evangelistic Center doesn't like to be held to a set capacity for shelter. Administrators say they don't want to turn anyone away.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 13 with results of appeal — A city board is ordering a downtown homeless shelter to close by April 1. 

On Thursday, St. Louis' Board of Building Appeals denied New Life Evangelistic Center's appeal of a cease and desist notice issued in early November. The center has been operating without an occupancy permit since May 2015.

Advocates say a heavy police presence in downtown parks, as shown in this June 28, 2016 photo, has driven some people experiencing homelessness into other St. Louis neighborhoods.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

An organization that goes into the streets to make sure people experiencing homelessness are warm and fed is concerned that the rights of the homeless are being violated in downtown St. Louis.

St. Louis Winter Outreach believes people living in shelters and abandoned buildings have borne the brunt of an increased police focus on minor violations promised by the mayor in May after a violent carjacking.

Homelessness on the decline in Missouri, Illinois

Nov 17, 2016
Volunteers look for people experiencing homelessness at the Delmar Loop Metro stop in July 2016 during St. Louis County's summer point-in-time count.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

This year’s federal homeless count found a 12 percent drop in the number of people experiencing homelessness in Illinois and a 4 percent drop in Missouri compared to last year.

Both states are on a five-year downward trend for homelessness, with Missouri’s count returning to pre-recession numbers. Illinois had one of the sharpest declines nationwide this year.

In addition to seating in the central hall of Biddle, the homeless center has classroom and office space on either side.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

After months of planning, and a few political bumps along the way, the city-owned homeless center in St. Louis’ Carr Square neighborhood opens Monday, five weeks after the initially targeted opening day.

Now known as the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center, the renovated building at the corner of Tucker Boulevard and Biddle Street just north of downtown is the result of a close to two-year effort to create a permanent, walk-in, men’s shelter with an eye to the possible closure of New Life Evangelistic Center.

New Life Evangelistic Center is located in downtown St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Board of Building Appeals in St. Louis city board has unanimously voted to require a downtown homeless shelter to seek approval from its neighbors for a new occupancy permit.

The board also voted Thursday to allow New Life Evangelistic Center to continue operating next to a school.

St. Louis city police convene June 28, 2016 at the park across the street from the St. Louis Public Library headquarters on Olive Street downtown. People experiencing homelessness often can be found at the park.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Homeless advocates say a bill being considered by St. Louis aldermen would bar them from helping people in need.

The measure would require a vendor’s license to distribute food, blankets or other goods on city sidewalks or parks — even if those items are being given away. It would also make it illegal to give anything away between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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.

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