Homelessness

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.
via Flickr | pasa 47.

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.