© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Homeless gather in response to new city initiative

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Just days before area leaders are set to launch a new initiative to end homelessness, a small group of volunteers distributed food and clothing at a downtown St. Louis park Sunday. The action was meant as both a service and a protest.

Dozens of people ate hot dogs and searched through piles of clothing at Lucas Park, a popular spot for the homeless.

City officials are preparing to open a drop-in center they hope will stop what they see as well-intentioned but uncoordinated food deliveries.

But volunteer Justin Stein feels the city is using gentrification to push the homeless out.

"If you have really expensive lofts with young professionals, the homeless population usually is not something that's valued," Stein said. "You have this whole support network that's increasingly being taken away."

The homeless often gather in Lucas Park for such services. A lawsuit filed by both Washington University and Saint Louis University contend that city police unjustly rounded up the homeless to clear the area during an event last year.

Linda Martin, who has been homeless for almost a year, relies on the park's accessibility.

"Then I have somewhere to lay my head at nighttime," Martin said. "I know it's kind of hot and kind of dangerous, but I don't have nowhere else to go at all."

The city's drop-in center is scheduled to open next month.


Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.