Homelessness

The Biddle facility acts as an overnight emergency shelter. 11/29
Hannah Westerman | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is the recipient of a $1 million federal grant to combat homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is supplying the funds to rapidly re-house up to 150 people.

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.

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.

Paramedics with the St. Louis Fire Department tend to a person who had taken the synthetic marijuana known as K2 outside the New Life Evangelistic Center on Nov. 10, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Social services providers in St. Louis are working to combat a spike in the number of people overdosing on a synthetic marijuana known as K2.

Since Monday, the St. Louis Fire Department had treated at least 100 people suffering the effects of the drug.  Many of the victims were clustered around downtown homeless shelters and service providers.

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

The city of St. Louis is ordering a downtown shelter to close its doors or finish applying for a new occupancy permit.

New Life Evangelistic Center received a cease and desist notice from St. Louis Building Commissioner Frank Oswald on Wednesday. He told the shelter it has 30 days to get a new permit, vacate its building at 1411 Locust Street or file an appeal with the city’s Board of Building Appeals.

Voting stations at a polling place.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis area residents head to the polls Tuesday, some have potential obstacles to overcome — aside from long lines.

For people experiencing homelessness, it can be difficult to register to vote. And according to disability advocacy group Paraquad, accessibility continues to be a problem at some polling places in the region.

William Bailey | St. Louis Planning Department |Provided

After a two-day delay, a new homeless shelter in St. Louis is back on track to being ready to operate.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment on Friday approved a $360,000 contract with St. Patrick Center, which will run the facility at the old Biddle Market north of downtown. Mayor Francis Slay and Comptroller Darlene Green voted to approve the funding; board president Lewis Reed maintained his opposition from Wednesday.

The Cooper House, which is operated by Doorways, has 36 private rooms that serve as emergency housing for people with HIV.
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St. Louis agencies that serve people living with HIV have seen a sharp rise in requests for emergency housing.

More than 5,900 people were living with HIV in the city of St. Louis and six nearby Missouri counties at the end of 2015, according to the St. Louis Regional HIV Health Services Planning Council.

Those that need emergency housing turn to organizations like Doorways, a St. Louis-based housing agency for people living with HIV. In 2015, Doorways provided emergency housing for 276 people, up from 180 people the year before. In the first five months of 2016, coordinators placed an average of 23 people a month, which is on pace to match last year’s increase.

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.  

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.”

Mary Edwards

Reporters Durrie Bouscaren and Camille Phillips have covered a wide variety of issues in the region in the last year. They joined host Don Marsh to discuss the most problematic ones and agreed the two most pressing issues are homicides and heroin addiction. To date there have been 187 homicides in St. Louis but few arrests.

New Life Evangelistic Center, 1411 Locust St. in downtown St. Louis.
Flickr | pasa47

Updated Dec. 9 with city permit denial - St. Louis has denied a request from the New Life Evangelistic Center to be exempted from two city code requirements as it applies for a new occupancy permit for its homeless shelter. Those city codes forbid shelters from being within 500 feet of a school, and require them to get the written support of local business owners and residents.

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

The New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis has long been at odds with the city over its ability to safely shelter more than a hundred people every night. But a big part of what keeps the shelter afloat has been left out of the debate: its practice of requiring long-term residents to work full time without pay in exchange for room and board. In addition, residents who receive supplemental social security checks for their disabilities are required to donate 40 percent of their income to the church.

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.

Larry Rice, the director of the New Life Evangelistic Center, holds a press conference in a worship area that also serves as an overflow room to accommodate additional people at the shelter.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled that the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis can stay open, until further order from the court.