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.”

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

A nearly two-year-old fight to close the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis will last a while longer. 

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The VA St. Louis Health Care System hosted a veterans’ resource fair Saturday in downtown St. Louis. Several hundred people attended the event, which expanded on the St. Louis VA’s fall Homeless Veterans Stand Down event to provide employment, education, health and legal services in addition to resources to help veterans find housing.                    

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

If the latest counts are accurate, the population of homeless veterans in the City of St. Louis is now zero. The city gave 51 veterans the keys to their own apartments Wednesday, providing housing for the last group of known homeless vets in the city.

At an event announcing Operation Reveille, St. Louis Department of Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff said homeless veterans have been a focus for his office.

Lance Holmes takes a drink after practice, right before Deisner, right, gives a post-practice talk to the team.
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

Street soccer takes on a different meaning this Saturday. The St. Louis Roadies will host a tournament, shutting down a block of Morgan Ford Road. This team, made up of men who are homeless or have been homeless at some point during their lives, uses this annual event to raise funds so The Roadies can travel to San Francisco to compete in the upcoming national tournament for homeless soccer teams.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

This winter, St. Louis County did something it hadn't done before - it opened a temporary shelter where homeless men and women could go to get out of the cold. It's a small piece of a 10-year plan to battle homelessness that St. Louis City and County signed onto in 2004. But obstacles remain to implementing the rest of the ideas in that document.

What is "homelessness?"

Robert Peterson / St. Louis Public Radio

Officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were in St. Louis today in an effort to get homeless veterans off the street and into housing immediately.

The outreach to veterans was part of the required winter count of homeless people in the city. Officials with the VA went out with teams, conducting the count to be able to offer immediate help to chronically homeless veterans. It was part of the Obama administration's efforts to end homelessness among veterans by 2015.

(via Flickr / lateaserikard)

When the weather turns freezing cold, we’re advised to stay indoors as much as possible. But what happens to those without homes to stay warm in? 

That concern is what led Teka Childress to found St. Louis Winter Outreach nine years ago. On nights when the temperature reaches below twenty degrees, volunteers with the St. Louis Winter Outreach go out in search of the homeless and offer them rides to shelters.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis City officials are mobilizing to protect the city's homeless population as an arctic weather front is forecast to plunge the region into sub-zero temperatures late this weekend.

The National Weather Service says a winter storm could dump nearly a foot of snow on the St. Louis area by Sunday evening. The overnight low temperature on Sunday is forecast to reach -8 degrees with daytime highs on Monday peaking near -2 degrees.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon)

For the 10th year,  St. Louis residents joined social service providers and city officials at Centenary United Methodist Church Saturday to remember the homeless men and women who died in 2013.

A bell chimed as the Rev. Kathleen Wilder read the names - 16 in all. 

Two died of drug overdoses. Another was an infant, killed by a runaway car. Robyn Robel was fatally strangled and dumped along the Riverfront Trail in April.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Rev. Larry Rice opened his emergency shelter at the New Life Evangelistic Center in 1976 with permission from the city to house 32 people. Back then, the area around his building at 1411 Locust was mostly factories and warehouses for St. Louis’ garment district.

Many of those buildings are now loft apartments with bars and restaurants on the first floor, and Rice admits to regularly sheltering as many as 300 people a night.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

An effort by a group of downtown St. Louis residents to shutter the New Life Evangelistic Center got underway on Tuesday in front of the city's Board of Public Service.

It was the first of what will be several days of testimony on whether the homeless shelter run by the Rev. Larry Rice is a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood. The quasi-judicial proceeding was prompted by a petition from 134 people who own property within a prescribed radius of the shelter, which is at the corner of 14th and Locust streets.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Josh Schindler is an attorney who has been advocating for parents who have fought to pull their children out of the unaccredited Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts. 

But the plight of homeless students has added another layer to the school transfer debate, he said.

(via Flickr/woodleywonderworks)

The BEACH Project, an initiative focused on quickly creating permanent housing and additional services for the city’s chronically homeless, received an additional $1 million to continue its mission.

Bill Siedhoff, director of human services for the City of St. Louis, says that the funding is essential for the project’s goal to end chronic homelessness in St. Louis by 2015.

Jerry Tovo (Courtesy Missouri History Museum)

 During the Vietnam War, Jerry Tovo was a drill sergeant, training soldiers to go to war. After he left the military, Tovo became a professional photographer, specializing in advertising. But in 2011, he took his photography in a less commercial direction--photographing homeless veterans across the country.

Tovo's motivation for the project originated with an understanding of the problems that can lead to homelessness  among veterans.

(via Flickr / David Lytle)

More than a million students nationwide are homeless.

Children who lack a permanent or stable household is an important yet, perhaps, overlooked issue and that’s true in the St. Louis area where several thousand students do not have a permanent home.

(via Flickr/frankjuarez)

There are more than one million homeless K through 12 students in America, and in Missouri, the number of students without permanent homes has doubled over the past five years.

If you’re like us you find those statistics daunting, but what do they mean? 

With that in mind, today we’re peeling back the data to understand the impact rising homelessness is having on education.  

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

The number of homeless students in Missouri has doubled over the past five years. Officials say this trend is adversely impacting education.

In the first of this two-part series, we focus our attention on school districts and what they're doing to meet the needs of students who don't have as stable place to call home.

Welcome to Gibson Elementary, home of the Geckos.

Even though it’s early, the halls are buzzing with kids eager to start the school day.


Making the transition from the military to civilian life can be difficult. 

Many veterans come out of the military with combat trauma, a condition which must be dealt with before they can move on.  And many don’t admit their condition for fear their discharge will be delayed or they won’t be able to get jobs needing a security clearance or jobs in law enforcement. 

Only a fraction of those with combat trauma register with a VA hospital.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

St. Louis officials say a new federal grant could enable them to end long-term homelessness in the city in 18 months.

The city announced today that it had received $1.25 million to provide services like rental assistance, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and other support for those who have been living on the street long-term. 

Previous federal grants could only be used for specific populations, says human services director Bill Siedhoff. The new federal money will provide those critical support services to a broader population.

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

Reverend Larry Rice says he is tired of waiting for the city to remove barriers that have surrounded his homeless shelter in downtown St. Louis for the past five weeks.

Sidewalks on both sides of Locust Street in front of New Life Evangelistic Center are blocked off by metal barriers. Bill Seidhoff, the director of the city’s department of human services, said the city placed the barriers there after receiving calls from residents who were concerned about hygiene and safety because of the homeless people who congregate and sleep around the center.

Jim Belford | Flickr

There is good and bad news when it comes to the latest government figures on poverty in America.  The good news is that the poverty rate has more or less stabilized for the first time in three years, while the bad news is that the number of people living in poverty in the St. Louis area is well above the national average.  Join host Don Marsh for a discussion about poverty and its ripple effects in the region. 

(Tim Llloyd/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley is pledging to open an emergency homeless shelter in the county by the end of the year.

Dooley announced the shift in policy in a series of Tweets on Friday. The county will also be looking for agencies to operate transitional housing - which is a stepping stone between a shelter and a permanent residence - and will host a homeless summit in October.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

A handful of homeless people milled about in the shade of a big green and white tent in suburban St. Louis County.

The massive canopy represents the latest in a string of attempts by Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center to set up a camp for the homeless.  

St. Louis County officials and police were on hand Saturday morning while Rice began setting up the camp in a vacant lot on Lada Avenue.

Officials told Rice that he did not file the proper paperwork to have a portable toilet, and that he could not have multiple tents.  

(flickr/Jack W. Reid)

As this year’s heat wave wears on, St. Louis city officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the death toll among the area’s homeless population from rising.

Department of Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff  says people living on the streets can be at greater risk for heat-related illness and death. 

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Rev. Larry Rice directed about 20 homeless persons to a mall in Fairview Heights on Tuesday to underscore the lack of shelters in St. Clair County.

Rice says many homeless persons seeking refuge from the triple-digit temperatures wind up across the river at his shelter downtown. 

“Belleville represents what we see in so many municipalities," Rice said. "Where people just aren’t dealing with the homeless. They’re closing shelters. We saw a shelter close here – the Salvation Army – in 2009. They made no other arrangements for the homeless.”

(via Facebook/The Bridge St. Louis)

On the last Sunday in June, The Bridge – a social service agency operated out of Centenary United Methodist Church in downtown St. Louis – served its 750,000th  meal.

Volunteers dished out just over 6,000 meals in 2006, the first year The Bridge was open. Last year, more than 171,000 people accepted a free hot meal.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann sat down with Kathleen Wilder, the pastor at Centenary and the executive director of The Bridge, to reflect on what it means that so many people are in need.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

A local church is taking a more low-key approach in its struggle with city officials to set up a homeless camp in St. Louis. 

Rev. Larry Rice of the New Life Evangelistic Center was arrested last week as he attempted to open a tent city called Integrity Village on a two-acre plot of private land at Vendeventer Ave. north of Interstate 44. City officials cleared the site and condemned the area as a health hazard. But Rice's son, Rev. Chris Rice, says they aren’t giving up.

Homeless St. Louisans displaced from three riverfront camps north of downtown will now have a new place to pitch their tents.

The Rev. Larry Rice yesterday unveiled his plans for "Integrity Village," which will be established today on two privately-owned acres near Interstate 44 and Vandeventer. Rice says the camp will be Christian-based and drug-free.

City officials say they won't permit this newest camp - but Rice says he'll be protected by the First Amendment.