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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis receives $1 million to house the homeless

File photo | Hannah Westerman | St. Louis Public Radio
The Biddle facility acts as an overnight emergency shelter.

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.

The St. Patrick Center and Gateway 180 will work together to execute the grant, although most of the re-housing will be done through the Biddle Housing Opportunities Center. ArchCity Defenders will help remove any legal issues preventing people from entering new housing.

The grant was actually awarded in April but the city only gained access to the money this week.

HUD employs a Housing First model which prioritizes placing an individual in a home or apartment before addressing the issues that led to their homelessness. The grant targets those who need short term help, such as rental assistance, rather than those suffering from chronic homelessness due to circumstances such as addiction and mental health issues.

Biddle clients attend the announcement of the 1-million dollar federal grant for rapid re-housing. 11/29/16
Credit Hannah Westerman St. Louis Public Radio
Biddle clients attend the announcement of the 1-million dollar federal grant for rapid re-housing.

Mayor Francis Slay says over half of St. Louis’ homeless population does not require permanent support to remain housed.

“This rapid re-housing thing that we’re doing now is an important thing,” said Slay. “Now, this is really not addressing the chronic homeless situation; this is addressing people who are, hopefully, temporarily homeless, with just a little hand up and some support. That’s what this million dollars is for.”

Laurie Phillips, the CEO of St. Patrick Center, says there are around 1,300 people experiencing homelessness in St. Louis. She says that even with the grant, donations are still crucial.

“This funding is very significant and very important for us in terms of being able to house people but it doesn’t stop there,” says Phillips. “And so there are more people who need housing than this grant can cover and there are more needs of this community than this particular grant can cover.”

The City has already applied for a second year of funding from HUD.

If the program goes well, Phillips says she is optimistic that the grant will be renewed.

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